It was a Sunday morning. We had just arrived home and there I stood, contentedly flipping some pancakes on the griddle, while everyone else played together in the living room.
I love Sunday mornings, I thought to myself. From outside the kitchen window came the cheerful call of birds while I hummed along to myself.
Then, like the abrupt and jarring sound of the alarm in the morning, came the nagging noise of a car horn.
HONK! HONK! HONK!
Must be the neighbors. Well, that’s alright. It will stop soon.
HONK! HONK! HONK!
Where are they, right outside our door?
“Who’s that?” Chris called.
So I peeked out the window to see a black jeep driving away. “They just left,” I replied.
Back to the flapjacks. Cue the bird chirping. Resume the others playing in the living room.
HONK! HONK! HONK!
You have got to be kidding!
“They’re back again?!” Chris yelled to me above the honking.
“Who owns a black jeep?” I replied.
This time we both went to the window. The jeep paused by our driveway, as though waiting for us. Then, it drove a few yards, circled back and paused again.
HONK! HONK! HONK!
All the while, the constant, blaring noise of a car horn continued.
What kind of a jerk goes around beeping their car horn on a Sunday morning?
“Do you think you should go out and see what’s going on?” I said to Chris, as I now scrambled the eggs. Pretty soon this would annoy the neighbors, if it hadn’t already.
“Maybe he has a gun?” Chris asked.
The beeping was really getting to me and I was sick of this guy in his jeep disturbing our Sunday morning. So I went out the kitchen door and up to the man, expectant to hear what on earth was this guy’s problem.
He dangled an all-too familiar set of keys before me. “Are these your keys?”
I stopped, dumbfounded. “Yes, they are!”
“I was just driving by and felt my car run over something. I couldn’t believe it when I saw these keys in the middle of the road. I’ve been hitting the car alarm so I could find out who they belong to.”
Oh. The aggravating beeping that sounded so loud? That was our car, in our garage. I was the kind of jerk going around beeping my car horn on a Sunday morning.
After thanking him profusely, I returned inside to an equally perplexed and sheepish Chris.
Then came the case of the whodunnit: how did our keys end up in the middle of the road?
So we did a rewind to the night before, to a lovely party we went to hosted by some friends. As we left their house, I distinctly recalled holding the keys in my hand and saying, “I’ve got to keep these keys in one place in the diaper bag so I can always find them.”
We arrived home around 8:30 PM. From there things got a little hazy in my memory. I knew, out of habit, that I took the keys out of the ignition. Chris closed the garage door. Then I carried our little one upstairs, leaving Chris to collect the salad bowl and diaper bag.
But, as we prepared to leave for church the following morning, we couldn’t find my keys anywhere.
So, it begged the question: how on earth did my keys manage to find themselves in the middle of the street?
I came up with a suspect list.
The neighborhood cat. We had just seen the black cat snooping around in the neighbor’s bushes. Perhaps the cat snatched the keys, thinking them food, and then dropped them in the street. However, how could the cat get inside the garage, which was closed? And, as my Dad pointed out, cats are smart enough not to mistake keys for food.
Chris. Maybe, when we arrived home on Saturday night, he actually went to check the mail as I walked upstairs and then somehow he dropped the keys outside? Perhaps he ended up sleep-walking into the street? But, alas, I ran into problems with these hypotheses, too. We got our mail on Sunday during our afternoon walk, meaning Chris didn’t collect it on Saturday. And I have yet to see my husband sleepwalk.
The guy in the jeep. Did he really just “come across” our keys? Perhaps he found them earlier, made copies of them, and was just trying to determine which house they belonged to, so he could come back at night when we didn’t suspect him. I mean, come on! Would you really notice running over a set of keys?
So the jeep guy was the frontrunner on my list of suspects. As I drove around the next day doing some errands, I felt a little anxious about returning home. Would I be alone, or did someone really break into our house to get our keys? And would he or she be there, waiting for me?
The Real Culprit
Such were my musings as I pulled into the garage, got out of the car, and opened the rear door to take out the car seat.
And then it all clicked in my mind.
There, in front of me, sitting on the roof of the car, sat my keys. Out of instinct, I placed them there as I prepared to unlock the car seat.
So, on Saturday evening, I must have done the exact same thing when we got home from the party. There they sat until Sunday morning. As we drove out of the driveway (using Chris’s set of keys), my keys must have fallen from the car roof and into the street. And that Good Samaritan took the time to patiently track us down … not to kill us in our sleep or to rob us, but out of sheer charity.
Out of all the hypothetical situations that arose in my head, the prospect of my possible guilt never crossed my mind. In fact, I recall quite clearly saying to my Mom, “Well, I know I didn’t lose them. I didn’t leave the house that night.”
The culprit wasn’t the cat, my darling husband, or the guy in the jeep. It was me.
The cat, my husband, and that poor man in his black jeep did nothing wrong; I was the jerk who lost the keys. It was Cassandra, with the keys, on the car roof. Go figure.
Lessons I have learned from this escapade:
1. Don’t leave my keys on the car roof.
2. Try thinking the best—as opposed to the worst—of people.
3. Get working on the wood beam in my own eye.