I’ve got keys in my pocket and I don’t know what to do with them

Posted on August 3, 2015


Just ran across this quick piece I published in the Saskatchewan newspaper a couple of years ago. Certainly nothing special, but it’s an excuse to post something here again.  


We’d just come home from shopping, carried the groceries from the car to the house, and as we walked up to the door I reached into my pocket and discovered I didn’t have my house key. Fortunately, although the door was locked, Barbara’s father was home and he heard the doorbell frantically ringing. (This was by no mean a “given,” since he often likes to put on headphones and listen to jazz – or The Beatles.)

When we first moved into the farm house the owner, Ron, took a large set of keys and walked me through to explain what each one was for.

“This is for the side door,” he said, “but you won’t be needing it. And this one is for the summer room. But you won’t be needing it. Now this one here, it’s for the hot tub room, but you won’t be needing it. And this one is for the lock on the big gas tank, but you won’t be needing it.”

By the time the tour was over it turned out that of all the keys on the chain, I would only be needing one of them.

After he left I carefully separated the one key I would need and put it on a separate chain. The rest of the keys I hung up where they could be found later.

Keys are probably the most disorganized aspect of a man’s life. It’s possible they’re a bane for women, too, but in my experience it’s generally men who can lose five pounds simply by taking the keys out of their pocket.

The problem with keys, of course, is that we don’t get rid of them. Just because we haven’t used a key for years doesn’t mean that we won’t be using it again – even if we don’t remember what it’s for.

That’s where moving out here from Ontario has proved to be an advantage. Of all the keys I’d accumulated, I finally knew once and for all that I would never be using any of them again. They included house keys, keys to classrooms in various buildings in George Brown campuses, and keys that I’d had for over 20 years whose purpose was long forgotten but couldn’t be thrown away because, “You just never know.”

Well, now I did know. In fact, the only key I still need from that lot is my car key, which I’ve wisely put on its own fob

But while men seldom have their keys organized, their pockets are a different matter.

My front left pocket is reserved for emergency supplies. These include a small container for headache pills (migraines are a family curse), lip balm (so are dry lips) and my pocket knife. The pocket knife was added a few years back when we moved from Toronto to St. Catharines. It was the first time I tried colour coding the boxes with electricians tape. Since electricians tape doesn’t have its own cutter, I found I was always reaching for something to cut it with. (Yes, you can tear it, but try doing that several hundred times over the course of a few hours.) It came in so handy for other circumstances as well that I made it part of my regular supplies. And as NCIS fans know, this is Gibbs’ Rule #9: “Never go anywhere without a knife. “

My back left pocket is for two sets of keys. One set includes the house key (the only one I needed from Ron), the key to the Advance office and the post office box key, all of which are new since moving to Saskatchewan. The other set is just one single car key. Having them separated like that allows me to leave the car running while I run into the post office or the Advance.

My right rear pocket is for change, and my front right pocket is for my wallet.

It’s odd that my pockets have always been so organized while my keys have always been a jangle of confusion.

No longer, though. Now everything is perfectly organized and right where I want it.

Once we got into the house, however, I began looking around to find where I’d left my house keys only to discover that they were, after all, in my pocket. Just not the right one.

It just goes to show you, I guess. Sometimes the key to what you want is right at hand – you’re just looking in the wrong place.