Comedy of errors

Note: Sadly, this entire thing is true. Told in a melodramatic and slightly exaggerated manner, but still true.

It was afternoon, and I had not yet eaten lunch; I was in a hurry, and I had forty bucks to my name, which happened to be exactly the amount it costs to have a locksmith open your car for you when you lock yourself out. It was therefore absolutely inevitable that I would be required to use the service.

I had a meeting I needed to go within two hours, and had over an hour of driving remaining to get there, but decided to stop first at a thrift store on the way to look for a cheap pair of dressy black pants. Now that I had an internship I actually had to dress like a grown-up every day, no Evanescence or Buffy t-shirts or self-graffited jeans allowed, which severely limited the options I had for my workplace wardrobe. Picking up a bag of books from the passenger seat I had to donate to the store, I momentarily set down the keys.

And therein lay the problem. As I had already unthinkingly locked the door as I opened the driver side door and stepped outside, I shut the door- with my keys glinting cheerfully at me from the passenger seat.

This was a very bad situation for several reasons. First of all, there was the fact that I had no spare key, and even if I or a family member had, I would have had to wait for them to drive over an hour to bring it to me, which would not only piss them off, but would insure that I was late for my meeting, which, second off, I would already likely be late for if I had to wait for a locksmith. Third off, I was hungry; the only food places within miles were Burger King and Dairy Queen, ironically enough, both of which I had no desire for, and would, fourth off, be unable to afford if I had to spend all my money on getting the keys out of my car, which, fifth off, I had already done on two previous occasions in the past month, so that, sixth off, my insurance company would no doubt refuse to pay me back for this time around, seeing as, seventh off, this definitely qualified me as not just unfortunate or absent-minded, but a complete moron who did not learn from previous errors.

And eighth off…it was June and boiling outside on the very unshaded parking lot. And I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that within two minutes time was already gathering sweatstains at the armpits.

I tried the usual methods of attempting to retrieve my keys- you know, the ineffective gestures that merely rev up your adrenaline and demonstrate your helplessness. I tried jiggling the door handle, half hoping the door would break off its hinges and the problem would be solved. I'd have a bigger and more pressing problem then, but hey, I would have the option of driving away in my favor. I tried prying the window open with my fingers, and the flat of my hand. I seriously considered breaking the window before the anticipation of what would probably end up as me accidentally slitting my wrists detracted me from that route. I attempted swearing, pleading, muttering phrases such as "Come on," "You've got to be kidding me," "Just open up already," and "Noooo!" in tones that varied from a coaxing whisper to an anguished wail to the heavens, all to no avail. The keys remained placidly locked away, taunting me with their sealed-off proximity.

As a last desperate resort I stuck my longest fingernail into the keyhole, attempting to turn it with a makeshift "key," but only succeeded in giving myself a painful hangnail. As I nursed my wounded digit, seething, a genius inspiration struck, and I scrambled for my purse, fumbling for my next tool to turn my fate around.

When I say "genius inspiration," I use it as a euphemism for "complete stupidity," because the powerful weapon I emerged with was a pencil, a wooden, #2 pencil, which I promptly stuck into the keyhole and turned, expectant that this would be the deliverance of my plight.

Alas, this plan resulted not in triumphant celebration of a defeated lock, but rather in my own screams of frustrated outrage,, and quite possibly several insults to sons born to female dogs. For rather than simply operating like its metal ridged peers, the pencil broke its lead off into the keyhole and remained lodged so firmly that no amount of prying and digging could remove it. Even if the Key Fairy had miraculously placed my keys in my hand at that very moment, I would have been unable to lock the door on that side…and since there was only one keyhole in the entire car, I had only one more shot. Wisely, I didn't take it.

I took this in stride. I calmly accepted my fate, bowed to the inevitable monetary loss, and called the locksmith, laughing and poking fun at myself and my situation in a charming, good-natured way.


I screamed loud enough to alert the local police ten miles over, set off several burglar alarms, and provoke the howling of dogs and yowling of cats for six blocks. I stomped my foot in a fury Rumpelstiltskin would envy. I don't often kiss my mama, but if she had heard the word coming out of my mouth I wouldn't be getting any kisses for the next thirty years. I sent enraged texts bemoaning my fate rather than beginning an action that would change it. And then I got teary-eyed.

That was probably what changed my fate more than anything. Up until that point, curiously, not a single person in the store nor the parking lot, which was admittedly fairly empty, had so much as glanced my way, no doubt petrified by the raving schizophrenic apparently serial killer within their sights. No doubt they were hiding behind the polyester sales rack, crossing themselves with wide eyes. But once I just shut up and shed some tears like a normal human girl instead of a crackhead freaking out over her severe need of a fix, things actually started to work as if I weren't a total idiot.

A girl came out of the store, around my age, asking after me in a concerned tone. Upon hearing my plight of woe and examining the lead in my keyhole- amazingly, without laughing or even smirking- she took a break from work to call a friend of hers to come get my keys out- absolutely free of charge. She then stayed with me and talked to me as if I were a NORMAL person and everything, rather than the tantrum-throwing sweaty girl who was too dumb to remember to exit the car with keys in her hand before locking it. That day I managed to escape the parking lot with my money in my pocket, a few shreds of badly damaged dignity remaining, lead still securely ledged into my keyhole, and a gratitude towards a girl who didn't' even act like I was crazy. Much. So thanks again, Cornelia (yeah, that WAS her real name) the Good Will Girl.

So what exactly am I telling this story for? Is there some moral or lesson you're supposed to learn from my tale of lunacy, or are you supposed to smirk and feel superior, my good deed to you for the day? What would the lesson be anyway- to think more carefully about your actions, to be aware of your belongings, to never give up on the kindness of others? To never shove a pencil in a keyhole?

Nah, what you've got to take from this is that tears, even if not actually gushing yet, are freakin' golden. Getting out of tickets, getting into bars or concerts, they're good for getting your way in whatever you desires. *Nods* They might seem weak, they might seem stupid, but hey, if I had just kept stomping I'd be standing in that parking lot with snow instead of sunburn by the time I got out of there. And the lead that is STILL in my keyhole would have totally disintegrated.

On the other hand, maybe the lesson IS to never stick a pencil in a keyhole.