The key to my despair

Losing your keys can cause more chaos than you think

The Knowledge

Phone, keys, purse, e-book reader. I’m quite neurotic about these four personal effects. They’re the first things I put into my handbag and the last things I check for before leaving my apartment. And once I’m finally out of the door, I have to check again that they haven’t somehow miraculously escaped.

For the most part, this neurosis works. I’ve never left home without my purse; on rare occasions am I without my phone; and I’m never bored with all my favourite books on hand.

So I was shocked to discover, while standing outside my flat at 4am, that my keys weren’t in my handbag. A frantic search and a worried call to my landlord later and it soon became apparent that I’d lost the only copy of my key in existence.

After the wailing ended, I composed myself, came to terms with the loss and asked my friendly building security guard to call a locksmith, ever thankful of Abu Dhabi and its 24-hour credentials. Within minutes of his arrival, a shiny new lock was installed. But instead of being the solution to my problem, I was simply faced with another one: the bill.

With the revelation that my lack of a key was topped only by my lack of money, the increasingly irritated locksmith offered to drive me to the nearest cash machine. In another cruel twist of fate, the ATM spat out my bank card without dispensing any money. At this point, fist clenched, looking skywards, panic set in as I apprehensively made my way back to the car, plotting how I could convince the locksmith to let me pay him later.

Back at my apartment, I smiled and made the situation known, which made the situation worse and resulted in an angry exchange of words. I resolved to enter my apartment with my newly acquired keys and simply shut the door, in the hope that he would go away. Not the cleverest approach, I admit, especially with the person who had so swiftly gained access to my apartment in the first place. As quickly as the new lock went on, it came off again, and there stood the angry locksmith, still furiously demanding payment, like a character from a Jack Nicholson horror movie. Eventually, resigned to the fact that recouping funds at such a ridiculous hour was futile, he composed himself, refitted my lock and left. The following day, you’ll be relieved to know, I went to an ATM that worked and finally settled my bill.

I’ve now distributed spare keys to friends around the city. When they laugh at my obsession with my personal possessions, I regale them with this story and they soon scramble to find their own key and purse. In fact, are you quite sure you know where yours are now? Really?

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