Friday, August 6, 2010

Sometimes you just know what's going to happen next...

It's monday-morning, and I find myself preparing to go to work. I'm working on a project in a neighbouring country, so my commute is, shall we say, significant. Usually I leave on sunday night, when there's light traffic and less stress. But this sunday, I had other, better, things to do, so I'm driving on monday.

I had packed my bags, my laptop, any related project paperwork, clothes, shoes, corporate badge, jacket, wallets, keys, everything's there and I hobble, packed like a mule, with two backpacks and assorted items, towards the car. Where, as I am fishing for the keys to the car, I can feel the key-chain of my house keys slipping off of my fingers. The keys drop. I look down. Just in time to notice them hit the storm drain.

In a brilliant flash of insight, I could see my day expand, deterministically, in my mind.

The keys slip through the grate and with a fittingly undramatic splash hit the water at the bottom and disappear into the murky depths of the storm drain's catch-bucket.

The key-chain is important. Apart from the physical importance (in it's capacity of opening the doors to my domicile), keys are somewhat symbolic in the "key to the city", "key to my heart" and "key to my life" kind of way. So, regardless of the consideration that you don't want to have any key to your front door ending up in potentially irresponsible hands, there's the psychology of the matter. And the certain knowledge that I cannot, will not, have my mind at ease as long as I don't hold those keys in my hands again.

Storm drains in the Netherlands are made out of cast-iron. Or some other suitable heavy material that isn't too overly expensive and not as toxic as lead. There's no way to lift one by myself. I could move it with a long enough and strong enough lever, but that would possibly put me in trouble with the local municipal works-department. Worse, if I lever it out of there and it tips over and down the chute on it's side I might be charged with vandalism, destruction of public property, or such.

Alright. Alternative approach. Ummm... A fishing rod? With a magnet? Bit of a cliche perhaps... Then again, I don't know how deep the catch-bucket goes and the water is too murky to see my keys in. A stick? Again, no idea how long it should be and I might just push it down the real drain, not just the catch-bucket beneath the grate.

So, back to the municipal works-department... Calling them will take some time, especially on monday. And, knowing bureaucracy, it will probably take even longer than that before the crew arrives with tools. So I'll end up waiting for them for some time, but lacking keys, I can't do so inside my house.

Not retrieving the keys and simply going to work isn't exactly an option either. While I will be staying in a hotel, I can't really wait with this for a week. The keys will be gone for sure. And after that, if the house hasn't been emptied yet, I'd have to replace all the locks. Which, as the locks are an integral system, would be both expensive and time-consuming.

While these possibilities and implications are still fractalling in my mind, some process intervenes and indicates that the "undesired expenditure of the day" flag has long since been raised.

My foot moves. I put my bags in the car.

And I kneel down to retrieve my keys. Which were narrowly trapped against one of the drain's sidebars by my foot.

That was a close call.

Now I can rest comfortably in the knowledge that I will not know what the rest of the day might bring.

Keychain image is (c) 2008,