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2004-09-17 - 2:12 p.m.

As a point of reference, it may have some importance to know that locking yourself out of an apartment can be an exercise in super-sized not fun.

Also, as a point of reference, note that your landlord might not have an extra key. Many expect, some are disappointed.

Finally, cozy up to the thought that should you say the word locksmith your wallet and all of its contents are forfeit. That two for one pass at Blockbuster? It’s on its way. The card you have that needs just one more stamp before you get a free cup of coffee, just hand it over when he picks up the drill. It will make the entire transaction smoother.

Usually in the morning, I stop just outside my door and give my pants a pat. Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet and Watch. Today, I made the same move, but began the motion after letting go of the door. My fingers hit my pockets and rummaged around but there were no bumps, no lumps, no even a single bulge, as the last remaining candidate shrunk into oblivion as the latch floated past the edge of the doorway, the tumblers fell into position and finally…

“Click.”

I have no explanation as to why I kept turning the knob. No keys, no wallet, and a sinking sensation that could have rivaled the Titanic, all told me that I was, for all expressed purposes, fucked. Still for a solid minute, my hands mangled the door, trying to interpret one of the various clangs coming from my lock as some kind of progress. Eventually, I fell to predictability. I kicked the shit out of the door and tumbled down the stairs with a rising storm of obscenity gathering around my mouth.

Local Brooklyn Doppler Radar began running images that resembled southern Florida, just as I learned my landlady doesn’t keep any spare keys unless they are purposely presented to her. I have a spare key, and I would have given it to her, had I actually known that the only master key in the entire complex goes by the far less impressive title of ax.

I will tell you this, sitting on the front stoop of your apartment for the first few hours of the day will give present you with a few interesting images: A plain white van with hydraulics installed, bettered only by the Fed-Ex man delivering a cardboard box with the following print on the side. “This side up. LIVE FISH.” I’d never considered cardboard a sufficient fish transport, nor did I ever worry that fish would be unable to deal with a sudden sloshing. Aren’t there tides where these things come from? Still, next time I move, I’m considering writing LIVE FISH right on the side of every box. Anyone dares tip one of my boxes and I can claim animal abuse.

The locksmith arrived after getting lost once, and finally conferring on directions to my little hamlet in Brooklyn. He seemed in cheerful state, and was happy enough to job on the job, that is until he got into the building. He looked around quickly, with drill poised, asking, ‘Which one?’

“Um, number thirty…sixth floor.”

“Where’s the elevator?”

“We’re trying to cut back on energy costs, so…um…never installing an elevator seemed the best way.”

“No elevator?”

“No elevator.”

“Oh, man.”

Toting a toolbox that I’m sure weighed more than my three nephews combined, and a drill that could rip through steel, we made a slow languid journey up the five flights, on each turn him mumbling…

“No elevator…”

The door fell apart in a matter of minutes to the tune of a construction site I’m sure all my late sleeping neighbors fully appreciated. I expect many, many fruit baskets. We smoked inside negotiating over the bill. By negotiation, I mean, me whining and having no effect on the bill, finally allowing him to use my cell phone to figure out the tax.

Elapsed time: two hours.

Elapsed cash: Enough to buy a small pony.

Elapsed pride: Just fucking kill me.

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