Monday, January 28, 2008

The Lost Apartment Key Mystery

Today I got up early and did a bunch of writing. My brain felt bigger--too huge almost, like it was about to explode from my scholarly activities. I needed to release some of the pressure and I knew just the ticket.

I jogged down to the boat club and spent the next chunk of the morning doing dead lifts and bench presses while listening to gangsta rap on my iPod. After a half hour of this my brain shrunk down to normal but I felt swollen and angry. I needed some food to re-balance my chakras, so I jogged over to the grocery store, purchased an array of pork and vegetable-related products, and was on my way. I still had an hour before work--just enough time to cook some pig, take a shower, and cycle over to school.

But when I jingled my hand around my vest pocket, I felt coins jingling, but no corresponding key jangle. So there I was, in workout clothes with a bag of groceries in front of my apartment and less than an hour before work, and no keys. Things were not looking good. My biggest problem was that I had covered about 4 miles from when I last saw my keys, so I had to backtrack with all the sleuthy perseverance of a well-trained bloodhound.

My first stop was the grocery store. I entered, and went to the woman who helped me at the checkout counter. I said something to the effect of "I don't have my key" and made a startled pantomime recreation of checking my pocket and not finding the key. She seemed to understand and directed me to the service counter.

Here is the exchange that followed:

ME: (in crappy Japanese) I need key.

STORE EMPLOYEE: japanesejapanesejapanesejapanese

ME: key..where?...I don't know...oh no!...house key...

STORE EMPLOYEE: japanesejapanesejapanese....ano...japanesejapanesejapanese

(At this point we're both babbling incomprehensibly to each other and pantomiming with great vigor)

As an ironic side note, my Japanese lesson last night consisted of how to tell the hotel that you lost your key. Of course I had forgotten everything by today.

2 other employees were summoned--a man in a face-mask and another checkout clerk. They fanned out across the store, covering every square inch of the floor. Nobody found my key and I felt bad that a chunk of this store's super efficient staff had been thrown off their routines because of my mistake. No doubt their fingers would be burning with shame as they frantically tried to catch up to their sushi quota later that day.

I decided to cut my losses and keep looking. I wrote my phone number down for yet another helpful clerk, thanked them profusely, and moved along.

I had about 40 minutes to get to work, and I was still wearing spandex and a skintight shirt, and while there are some jobs where that will fly, this ain't one of them. I had a lot of backtracking to do and not much time.

Unfortunately, my legs were spent from lifting weights, so I had to do the zombie-stagger run until I got tired, then I walked, then I staggered some more, my head shiftlessly swiveling back and forth like some demented Stevie Wonder as I scanned the ground for the glint of metal. I noticed a guy down the path staring at me. He was old and looked angry, and I thought he was going to stick a knife in my ribs for what we did during the war or something.

But it turns out he was just scrutinizing this stumbling moron and thinking "I just found some keys in the bushes, and there's a 110% chance that they belong to this careless foreigner." And he was right.

So with a burst of "japanesejapanesejapanesejapanese" he revealed my keychain in his hand. He seemed guarded, but eventually decided that it would be preposterous for some big foreigner to randomly try to scam some random keys off him. So even though I didn't understand everything he was telling me, he believed me enough to part with the keys.

Sweet! By now, I had about 35 minutes to get to work, so I staggered home, ate lunch in under 3 minutes, showered, and got to work feeling like a million pesos.

But against all odds, I made it there on time.

4 comments:

Tom said...

You best post yet!

Tom

Nate said...

Thanks!

kafka said...

It wasn't actually your original key. All foreigners have the same lock. This is for the convenience of the authorities. The old fellow is assigned to be one of your watchers. It's a requirement for obtaining his pension - hence the anger. Note also that by giving you his copy of your key, he lifted the veil - just a bit - on the system and will doubtless be punished by his superiors. You may not see him again...

Nate said...

Wow, so far the most interesting comment on this blog has come from someone I may not even know. Let's go, slackers. Mystery person, thank you for what I hope is just your warped sense of humor.