Last Saturday I stood in a store looking at a thin white plastic square that sings a song when you press a button on your phone. You're thinking: "Wow, I'll take two." But it gets better: You stick the square on something you might lose and want to find. Keys. Dental plates. Dogs. Perspective.
Endless uses! Ever found yourself looking for the TV remote and thought, "It's probably behind the sofa cushion. If only I could take out my phone, enter my code, call up an app, log in, dismiss the screen that says there's an update, dismiss the screen that asks for a rating on iTunes and then push a button that makes the remote sing, so I can confirm that the remote's probably under the cushion."
OK; silly example. But keys? Sure. You're always losing your keys around the house. That's because you lack a predictable system for storing them. I always put mine in the drawer, or on the counter, or by the back counter, or just leave them in the lock all night long because I want an easy answer when the cops say, "Do you know how the burglar entered?" It's always in one of these places.
Or my pants. Or coat. Point is, I have a system. I never lose my keys. So, no, I don't need a plastic square that sings a song.
A few days later, of course, I lost my car keys. Downtown. As I left Star Tribune World HQ, I felt in the pocket of my satchel where I always put the keys — unless I put them in my pants, or the other pocket of the satchel, or one of the 16 pockets if I'm wearing cargo shorts (in which case I look like I'm doing some lower body version of the Macarena as I pat every possible pocket, jumping so I hear the keys jingle).
No keys anywhere. Let me share some important lessons about losing your keys.
1. It feels like looking at your hand and seeing no fingers. You can't quite believe it. "But I know I had fingers just a while ago. I scratched myself."
2. You do not panic, because of course you left them back on your desk. They're in the lock of your drawer, which you always close because someone might help themselves to your box of tacks or half-empty pack of gum.
3. You start to panic when they're not at your desk. All bets are off now. Did I put them in my satchel, or did I actually fling them on the roof of a passing truck? Probably not. Did I walk around the office twirling them on a finger like a carefree man about town, only to put them down to look at the free scones someone put out?
No, those were coffee-rutabaga flavored scones. Horrid things. I kept moving.
4. Perhaps I did lose them on the street. So let's ask every person sitting in a suit behind a desk at the local towers.
"Did anyone turn in any keys?"
"What kind of keys?"
"A 3-foot-long, gold ceremonial key to the city. Car keys, c'mon." No, be nice. "Car keys. With a fob," you add, so he doesn't waste time pawing through the box marked Non-Fobbed Keys.
No one had my keys. If someone had found them, they hadn't turned them in, which meant: Oh, no!
5. You imagine someone walking around downtown, pressing the unlock button, waiting for your car to beep back and betray you. You realize your car doesn't care about you at all. It's like realizing your dog would follow anyone who waved a steak.
"Think," I said to myself. "Think. They have to be somewhere. You're going to exploit this for a column, and it's going to need an ending."
I Ubered home, got the spare key and returned downtown. The spare is fobless, so I had to unlock the car manually like it's 1934. I can't wait until you can unlock your car and start the motor with your thumbprint, except you know somehow we will manage to lose our thumbs, too.
But if that happens, don't panic. It's probably wedged between the sofa cushions.