Murphy was right | Opinion

I recently came upon an unfamiliar Murphy’s Law and immediately identified with it. “You never find a lost article until you replace it.” Isn’t that the truth? It’s good to know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this.

In my case, I became so anxious about the loss, I went out and got a replacement. Now this was no everyday object such as a library card or dog’s nail clippers. My missing item was a set of car keys, leaving me with one remaining set. The fear of losing those keys hung over me. I’d heard that losing your car’s keys was a motorist’s nightmare. Your car would be sent back to Detroit, or wherever it came from, with no guarantee of success. The useless car could end up as a big planter, stuck in your driveway forever.

Therefore I clutched the remaining keys, never letting them out of my sight. At the same time I knew the lost set was lurking about, probably under my nose, taunting me. They’d somehow gone missing between my driveway and breezeway door, a distance of about 15 feet.

Using a flashlight, I searched under the car seats, uncovering dusty strings of red licorice, plastic coffee-covers and Sweet ‘n’ Low packets. I searched the pockets of every coat and inside every pair of boots in the breezeway. I even dug up the little spruce tree decorated with Christmas lights standing in a planter by the side door. Holding it upside down, I gave it a good shake. The tree later showed its contempt by turning orange and shriveling up.

Tackling the breezeway, I went through every junk mailing and empty cereal box in the recycling bin. I stuck my nose into empty dog and cat food cans. When I wasn’t searching, I was constantly checking on the remaining set of car keys, now kept in a special zippered case. Whether in line at the supermarket or at the movies, I silently rummaged through my pocketbook to make sure the keys were safe.

I finally decided to end the drama and get a new set made.

The service techs at Ira Subaru said it wasn’t a simple case of making a duplicate. Today each key is a mini-computer, programmed to the specifics of the car. The remaining set of keys would require reprogramming, identical to the new keys. In the event I found the missing set, they’d be no use to me. “In that case, I hope I don’t find them,” I said. It would be too cruel a blow.

As I imagined, having new keys made was not cheap. The peace of mind, however, was priceless. It’s not a rush job, like the old days when you visited the local hardware store. I hung out in the service center’s waiting area reading worn issues of Car & Driver. It was all worth it when I was finally handed two sets of reprogrammed keys. Pocketing the spare, I felt a weight off my shoulders. This was my Christmas present to myself.

When I got home, I hung the keys on their hook and vowed to never be distracted from this task in the future. Short of a home invasion, hanging my keys on their hook was my first priority.

The following week, Christmas day, I was packing presents for a family dinner at my son’s house. My contribution, a beautiful eggnog torte from Salem’s Coffee Time bakeshop, was gently lowered on top of the bag. When the foot-high torte teetered and almost toppled, I stopped and grabbed a recycling bag hanging in the breezeway. From inside the bag came the familiar clink of keys.

Immediately I remembered carrying a large flat pizza into the house. My keys, balanced on top of the box, began to slide off. I nudged them into the nearby recycle bag. At the same time, I made a mental note to immediately remove them. Needless to say, I did not. Murphy must have a law for that.

Sharon L. Cook is a longtime contributor and the author of the Granite Cove Mysteries. Contact her at

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