C kept locking herself out. Sometimes it was just outside the self-locking main building door. When that happened, she’d ring neighbors’ bells until someone let her in. But when she locked her keys in her apartment, she had to call me. I only found out about all the other half-lockouts when I commented to a neighbor that I was worried, because it seemed to be happening more often.
By the time I realized how frequent it was, I was starting to worry about her faculties. C and I go way back, but neither of us is getting any younger, and our memories – see, I just had to go back and re-read this to remember what I was writing.
Anyway, I suggested she leave a key with her sister who lives a few blocks away, but her sister was developing Alzheimer’s, so that wasn’t a good idea. My other solution was to hide a spare key somewhere in the hall, so once she got in the building via a neighbor, she could use it to unlock her apartment door.
A few months later, I checked under the hall pot I remembered hiding it in, and it wasn’t there. And inevitably I got another call. As I unlocked her door, I reminded C that she must’ve used and never replaced the spare I had hidden. She, on the other hand, was congratulating herself because she didn’t lock herself out as usual. Her purse overturned in a friend’s car, and she apparently didn’t see her keys when she was putting all her belongings back into it. Her friend found the keys, and she was happy that, even though the end result was the same, i.e. she was once again locked out, it wasn’t because she forgot them this time. Still, I was annoyed that the spare was removed from its hiding place, and made her promise to make and hide another.
While I was still self-righteously harrumphing around about it, it dawned on me that the hall closet might be a better hiding place for the future key. I went to check the closet for something to hang a key on, and there, already hanging from a nail, with an accusatory glint, was the key I’d accused C of removing from the other location that I thought we used.
Apparently neither of us remembered that, in the all-too-recent past, the hall closet was already our agreed-upon hiding place. Oldtimers Disease.