Saturday, January 29, 2011

Roughly three weeks ago I lost my keys.  By the time I discovered they were missing I had lost track of days and  the ability to retrace all my steps.  After fruitless nights and weekends looking in ridiculous places inside, I had to assume they'd been lost outside in the snow on my walk to work.

The key chain contained timeworn and true, original keys to my parents house. and a special key, made by my father, which spoke of his genius in fashioning useful tools out of found objects.  He'd made it for a funky lock on their back porch.  There is a tide of emotions in those keys. 

There were keys to my sisters house.  We grew up having free entry into our parents house at any time and my mother made sure we always had a key.  She trusted us immensely, and my sister has done the same.  Her key was differentiated from all the rest by the name "Mexico" stamped on one side. 

Lastly, were my own keys.  An automatic opener (what a pain in the ass to replace) keys to our place, and all those plastic nuisances that make shopping marginally convenient.  But it was the key chain picture of my son which bothered me most.  There was something about his little plastic face laying in the snow, being run over by tires, that made me ache a little. 

I imagined all the ways in which the keys would be ignored, or dealt with.  None of them involved someone going out of their way (who does THAT anymore) one thought had someone walking around the neighborhood looking for their free vehicle by way of panic button.  I realize that was likely a stretch. You might imagine my excitement then, when my husband handed me the keys on Wednesday and told me how they'd been found. 

The keys had been discovered in a mailbox.  The owner of that mailbox walks in the neighborhood and is friendly with the crossing guard at the elementary school.  Thinking she might know the child from the picture, he brings the keys to her.  She immediately recognizes my son, and flags my husband down. 

No one had to take the time.  No one had to put thought into finding the rightful owner.  We are all busy, preoccupied, jaded in our own ways large or small about the order of the world.  The fact that through a series of otherwise simple steps, my keys were returned to me though, is a beautiful thing.  It renewed my faith in human kindness and was a great lesson for my children about the value of small kindnesses. 

I wrote a thank you note to (Judy) the crossing guard, and asked her to pass along my thank you to the mailbox owner. 

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