It's a pretty substantial hunk of metal, at least when you consider that it spends most of the day wedged into my left front pocket. These are my school keys, and Monday through Friday they are the constant reminder of where I am. After twenty years at the same site, I am one of the lucky few allowed entry to so many doors, gates and cabinets. I am still not in a league with our custodians, principal or admin assistants, but I feel like the fistful of keys I cart around each day is commensurate with my status in and out of the building.
So imagine what would happen if I had somehow misplaced those keys.
That's what I did. I stood at the front door of the school, anxiously searching through my pockets and pawing the contents of my backpack to see where I must have misplaced them. Even as I banged on the door to get our custodian to let me in, I began to make a list in my head of all the other doors I would be asked to open before the end of the day. The laptop carts would have to sit in storage and the playground balls and soccer goals would stay hidden in their closets. Anyone coming to me, as they so often do, to ask me to unlock this or that would receive the embarrassed shrug of someone who had lost his keys.
It was somewhat maddening for me, since I tend to occupy that line of defense against locked doors. "Mister Caven, could you please open my classroom? I locked myself out." Or, "Can you let me into the book room? I need some manipulatives for math." And then there's just the garden variety of comings and goings that take place every single day by yours truly. No keys would be a sorry state of affairs indeed.
So I went right in and did what any red-blooded American male would do: I called my wife. She dutifully went down to the basement and looked around where I had changed into my rain pants before boarding my bike for the ride to work. No dice. Or keys. She then proceeded to drive through those dark city streets that I had just covered on two wheels, staring at the pavement for any sign of the tools of my trade. She called me from outside the school and I hopped in the passenger seat with the hopes that making one more sweep would bring us more luck. No luck. No keys.
When she dropped me off again in front of the school, I had now made the trip twice on four wheels and once on two. Where could I have dropped them? At the risk of turning this into any sort of M. Knight Shamalamadingdong scenario, when I returned to my classroom where the door had been propped open by our custodian, I pushed myself to take one last look in the pocket of my jacket, but I never put my keys in my jacket pocket, and there they were.
And another day began. I will be buying my wife a nice dinner.