Have you ever put a key into a lock that didn’t work? One of my daughters and I were discussing the many times we’ve encountered just that problem. Sometimes it’s with cars (as when we attempt to force our keys into what turns out to be somebody else’s car), and sometimes it happens with houses.
One year I moved into an apartment complex with numerous buildings that all looked exactly alike. A friend and I had gone out for a couple of drinks (hmm, come to think of it, that might have contributed to the problem), and she let me off at my new apartment.
“I’ll stay here until I see the door open,” she offered as a measure of protection (I have always had amazing friends). She watched me climb the stairs, walk down the long outdoor hallway, stand before my door, and fidget with the lock.
After numerous attempts I looked over at her and saw her raise both palms upward and shrug her shoulders. I did the same. After more attempts, I walked down the long hallway, down the steps, and right back into her car.
“What do you want to do?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I thought out loud. “Maybe my key isn’t working.”
Turns out I lived one building to the west.
My daughter’s favorite driving story is about the time she and a couple of friends were driving one friend home after a party. They pulled into the driveway and when Sema didn’t open the door, they said, “Sema, you’re home – get out!”
“But this isn’t my house,” she argued.
“YES! It is, now open the door.” Reluctantly Sema left the car and walked up to the front door where she found herself standing face to face with her next-door neighbor at 2 o’clock in the morning, saying the only thing she could think to say, “Have you seen my brother?”
But the highlight of my driving experiences is one of those déjà vu moments that reminded me of the time I was taking driver’s ed in high school. The instructor and two other students were male. I was the only female.
In those days, wheels didn’t return to their original position, so when I made a right turn, I ended up speeding through a field directly into the path of a house. Every time the instructor yelled, “BRAKES! BRAKES!” I accelerated more and more. When I saw the whites of the eyes of the family seated at their breakfast table staring at me with mouths agape, something snapped inside me and I slammed on the breaks just in time to see the two other students cowering in embarrassment on the floor of the back seat.
And so here I was, decades later, working for a home party company heading into the country to find – from the driving directions that included no street names – landmarks such as poles, statues, and baskets. I was never very good at seeing in the dark, and this brand new street had no lights yet. I had to continuously vacate my car and walk up to each house just to locate the address.
Finally, I thought I had it figured out and I pulled my car directly in front of what I thought would be the correct house. For reasons I couldn’t understand, I saw the father wrap his arms around his children and rush them into the house. When I came to a stop, I noticed the circular driveway in front of me running to my left and to my right. Too bad I didn’t see it before I drove across their newly landscaped lawn.
(photo of Nicolas Cage – "this isn't my house" in The Family Man is from IMDB – Internet Movie Data Base)