The Lost Art of Finding Keys

Keys, keys. Seems we are always looking for them.

In our house, with so many test cars coming and going, key searches can be a testy topic.

One of my favourite ‘lost key’ adventures happened 14 years ago. It was a day of car shuffling, a spring day of warm sunny weather, ripe for driveway puttering and clearing a late April snow dump.

I stayed out there most of the day, in and out of the garage, maneuvering our GMC Yukon and a visiting Chrysler Sebring to make way for a lonely guy’s snow-clearing chores.




Garage cleaning and outdoor chores keep loneliness at bay when wife’s away

Lisa had escaped on a girls’ trip with college crony, Rhonda Pigot, who she insists on calling Rae for reasons unknown to me.


Lisa and Rhonda on their girls’ trip, not worrying one bit about Garry’s lost keys.


When the driveway was immaculate, I took on the garage, sweeping and shuffling stuff around. For the time being, my loneliness was kept at bay.

I even got into ‘the mood’ and wrote a column right there on the garage-porch we had built the summer before.



It was the porch’s first spring function and words flowed like the spring runoff under our giant copper beech tree.

Yes, things were going smoothly during Lisa’s absence. Youngest daughter, Layla, who seemed to enjoy the novelty of ‘Mum’s away’, was taking care of the groceries and feeding me with surprising regularity. She was heading into her 17-year-old’s world that Friday evening and I actually had the house to myself. A rarity indeed.


After dinner, I did the dishes, my usual look-at-what-I-do-around-here act, and reflected on the options for the evening ahead.

I could sort bits and pieces in the tool room, fix the sink in the downstairs bathroom or just sit back in the living room and listen to music or read a book.

Before getting started, I decided to take the Sebring for a spin. If it performed anything like its sporty new styling, I was obviously in for some fun. There was a problem though.


The keyless visiting Chrysler Sebring


The key to the Sebring that was conveniently blocking everything in the driveway was among the missing.

I looked everywhere. A fine time for Lisa to be away. She’d find the key and then go on about opening my eyes when I look for something. No matter. I had the key a few hours ago and hadn’t left the yard. It stood to reason that the errant necessity was somewhere on the property.

I ransacked the house in vain. I visualized it dangling off the shutter of the neighbour’s kitchen window after rocketing across the yard during the morning snowblower blitz. There were many false sightings as I checked the obvious and the not-so-obvious. I searched the refrigerator, the bottom of my sock drawer and even a toolbox I hadn’t opened for weeks.


Finding those keys became an obsession. I went out to the Sebring I couldn’t drive and looked under the seat a half-dozen more times.

I began to envision my call to the nice guy at Chrysler’s PR office to announce he had to take time from his busy day to express-post a spare key to Boy Wonder half way across the country.

No one likes a key loser, and that is what I had morphed into. The keyless Sebring mocked my mobility for the upcoming weekend.


Growing up, car keys were a regular topic of conversation.

In 1965, when Ford introduced keys that would work no matter which way you inserted them, the novelty got us through a few family meals. Imagine a world where upside down keys didn’t exist!

When keys to Dad’s car, or one of his two trucks, went astray, my mother, Edith, would inevitably be summoned.


Garry’s mum, Edith Sowerby.


We’d all stand there helplessly and watch her go. If she didn’t find them within a few minutes, we’d hear her muttering a prayer to Saint-Antoine, the patron saint of lost items. Then Bam! Mum would surface with the keys and life was good again.


When keys went astray in Garry’s childhood home in Moncton, mother, Edith, would summon Saint-Antoine, the patron saint of lost items.



It never failed; Mum and St-Antoine had the art of finding keys figured out all right.

But, my big night home alone was turning into failure. I tried to concentrate on one of my mindless pursuits, but the lost key would haunt me and I would tear off on another fruitless search and more false sightings.

Finally it was time to go to the big guy himself, Saint-Antoine. Even though I felt like a bit of a taker, I figured he might just help me out, especially since Edith still engages his services on a regular basis. My obsession with The Key had to be satisfied so I came right out and asked the good Saint-of-finding-things where the key to the Sebring was.

Nothing happened, there were no cracks of thunder or flashes of lightning. The room didn’t shake either. I wandered the house looking for a miracle in all the same places.

After a half-hour of waiting for my miracle, I decided to go to bed, just give up, call it a day and put an end to my misery. Just accept that the key was gone and prepare to get the spare key from Mr. Chrysler at the end of my grounded weekend.

Lost in thought, I reached to turn out the bedroom light.


Where was that key?

As the light went out, a glimpse of it sitting on the top shelf of Lisa’s dresser burned itself into my brain. A classic false sighting perhaps, but I flicked the light back on, just in case. There it was, the Sebring key, neatly tucked in beside Lisa’s junk jewelry box.

I was elated, but a little spooked, too. How did it get there? Lisa had been away for days and I had moved the car that morning.

But Saint-Antoine? Now that’s another matter.


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