Life doesn’t seem to have got any slower since Christmas. If anything it has sped up like a demonic whirling dervish spinning ever faster and more out of control. Between children, work and selling our house (in two days this time, Emoov.com are the business) life seems to be on permanent fast forward. The idea of being bored is a quaint novelty from the dark ages of my teens. Life at warp speed can be exciting and a buzz but it can also make me grumpy and unnecessarily short with people. Today I was given a very big reminder from the Universe to be a lot nicer to everyone.
After a very emotional draining week at work, one that had been challenging, frustrating but ultimately rewarding, combined with all the normal stresses and strains of getting a mortgage sorted within a pressurised time frame I was spent and very ready for home time. At 2.12 I saw I have missed a call from my mother in law. The mother in law I was expecting to pick up our only garage key as she was dropping off our old cot. Our only garage key that I had carefully taken off its key ring so that identification would be straightforward and placed in a bag along with my brother in law’s card and birthday present in the pre-arranged location. So far so organised. The morning was sunny, the wind none existent, it was a rare calm, happy exit to school and work that gave rise to the idea that I could be a competent mother and adult after all.
What could go wrong?
At 2.14 I called Maggie, my mother-in-law back. She answered. It sounded like she was in a hurricane.
“Hello” in her voice you could hear the effort it was taking to keep upright, “where did you put the key?”
“In a bag with Chris’ card under the plant pot”
“No it’s not there”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeessssssss” there was another massive gust of wind
“What about Chris’ card?”
“He found that in the bushes”
“and the bag?”
“Oh hang on I think I found the bag, oh no it’s an old glove”
“that was our only garage key” I am ashamed to admit I did whine
“Don’t worry, we will keep looking, it’s bound to be somewhere”
I said something along the lines of that it must be in the bushes, Maggie said something cheerful as she always does. I put the phone down and tried not to have a little weep. Oh come on Natalie they might find it, have some faith. I called a locksmith.
“Garforth Locksmiths” The man sounded suspiciously like he had just woken up from a post lunch nap.
“Hello I have a garage lock without a key”
“Is is a new house?”
“It’s about 20 years old”
“‘cos some of those new locks you just put drill in and the whole thing crumbles”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“It will be about £100 if it is a standard lock and I can come round tomorrow.”
Ok I thought, not so bad as long as our lock doesn’t disintegrate, (you can’t have a conversation with a tradesman without that touch of peril can you?) I would prefer not to spend £100 just before payday and the mortgage people scrutiny but it could be a lot worse I told myself, and you never know my in laws might have found the key. I called them expectantly.
“Hi there, I was just about to text, we couldn’t find it, so we have left everything on the lawn in front of the house, hope it doesn’t rain. Sorry, Bye”
Finally home time, I got in my car, my parting words to my colleague. “I am going to find that key and I will send you a picture.” I felt like Scarlett O’Hara pledging her future in Gone with the Wind.
“What’s for tea?” shouts down Harry as I step through the door. “I don’t know” I snap. Even though I knew exactly, as I had the pork chops defrosting. Really why couldn’t I just tell him?
“I have to find the garage key”
“Mum, how many spellings did I have to get right to go to Subway was it 10 or Nineeeeeeeee? ” asked Nina very hopefully
“I. have. to. find. the. garage. key.”
I went out to look in the bushes. I found the old glove, two old food bags and a packet of crisps. But no key. I started poking around the undergrowth, a deceptively dense tangle of leaves and roots that had swallowed up a Wimbledon fortnight’s worth of tennis balls over the years and never disgorged any of them . I found an old tennis ball. I snarled a bit. Now I find a tennis ball now? I started to fantasize about a giant horseshoe shaped magnet descending from the sky. Which in a funny sort of way did happen.
“Darling, do you know anyone with a metal detector?” I had called my mum for some moral support. I had been searching for a whole 10 minutes but it was all feels so futile, already I was thinking about waking up the napping locksmith again.
There was a person working their way up the street knocking on every door. He was a youngish man, dressed in a long coat with a flat cap and carrying a ruck sack on his back, in his hand a piece of paper.
He was three doors down from me. He looked over at the mad woman squatting on her haunches moving leaves back and forth. I am sure I would have been muttering and no doubt swearing. “I don’t want anything thank you” My tone was sharp and I am sure very unpleasant.
“Oh that is ok” he said very mildly. “What number are you?”
“What” I barked.
“Oh I just need to mark off that I spoke to you”. “Do you need a hand?” He added.
“Ha no thanks unless you fancy looking for a key in all this” I gestured down.
“Yes I know”
“But I saw a key when I was here at 1.00 pm”
“Really” to say I felt some hope would be the understatement of the year, but I was cautious not to have it dashed away instantly.
“Over here” He led me to a point in the road, near where I park my car.
“Oh my goodness, you are not joking are you?” still not believing my luck that maybe all was not lost.
“No”, he looked a little hurt “I would never do that”.
We walked over to where he thought he had seen the key.
“Was it silver”
“Was it slightly square at the top”
“I think so”
We tried to analyse the way the wind was blowing by wetting a finger and sticking it up in the air.
We walked over to the house we thought it must be. We moved some logs. It wasn’t there.
I turned round and asked him again feeling slightly crest fallen “Where did you see it..” but the words were not out of my mouth when sunlight glinted on a sliver of silver. I could hear a chorus of heavenly angels. There it was. The key just lying there waiting to be picked up.
I was so delighted I hugged the man. “Oh right mmmm I see, right” he said very awkwardly. (Imagine surprising Clive Anderson with an uninvited display of affection, the result would be the same). I not sure he is a man ever to have been hugged by a strange woman before and certainly not one twice his age. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, I hope something wonderful happens to you this weekend you really deserve it.”
“It’s ok” he said ” you just looked like someone in distress”.
I tried to offer him a variety of rewards mainly alcohol, money and chocolate related. He refused them all and went back off down the road knocking on the remaining doors on the street.
As I put the stuff back in the garage, I marveled at his kindness. I had been so rude at the beginning. Most people would have just thought up yours you snotty cow and left me to stew in it. It is rare isn’t it to meet someone so happy to help and for its own reward. It is a salutary lesson and one I want to learn from, I promise to try, but I fear I might not always succeed but I promise I will try. Although maybe I am getting some good luck back, I did hand in someone’s beautiful grey suede Chloe Bag that contained their purse, driving licence and credit cards into Sainsbury’s last weekend when I saw they had left it hanging on the trolley in the car park. Karma does work doesn’t it. It is the key to a happy life.