Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finding My Keys: Step-by-Step Instructions

I lose my keys every day.  Sometimes I lose them more than once a day.   After much trial and error, I developed a system for finding my keys.  It went like this:

1. Realize that I've lost my keys.
2. Peer around my office.
3. Peer out of my office and down the hallway.
4. Find member of species homo sapiens.
5. Plea with said member like so:  "Help!  I've lost my keys!"
6. Stand back and watch member of species homo sapiens tear my office apart until he or she finds my keys.

This technique worked for a good eight or nine years, minus the times that I left my keys in the ladies room or a classroom or the faculty dining room or in my pocket or in the mini-fridge.  The point is, generally it worked.

Then we hired my colleague, Amy.  Amy is a rational thinker and also a teacher, and it did not take her long to figure out that my technique was a form of learned helplessness on my part and also a way to get other people to do my bidding.

Sometimes that Amy can be a real pill.

Anyway, after a few weeks, this Amy, unfortunately for me, created a new system for finding my keys.  It goes like this:

1. Stand up and look around the office, actually moving around to examine all exposed surfaces.
2. If you don't find keys, begin patting surfaces, especially those covered with books and papers, until a jingling sound is heard.
3. After exhausting both of these steps, begin to clean up office, moving systematically rather than just sweeping an arm across the desk and knocking everything to the floor.
4. If no keys are found after cleaning up office, check ladies room, classrooms, pockets and mini-fridge.

Amendment 1:  Before beginning seach, check left hand.  Check right hand.  If keys are actually in a hand, no search is needed.
Amendment 2: Do not forget to look in door lock.

Of course, I have tried to resist this new system, but the Amy is persistent.  She not only makes me repeat the steps aloud, but she teaches them to any random students or untenured faculty members who foolishly wander into the realm of the lost keys.  Errors occur frequently, resulting in a running commentary, for example:  "No, you do not start moving things before you have done steps one and two!  You will just conceal that which you are trying to find!  What are steps one and two?  C'mon, I know you can do this." 

Frankly, I cannot do this.  At least, not without concentrating really, really hard, and if I were capable of that I probably wouldn't have lost my damn keys in the first damn place.

Alas, gentle readers, the Amy will not simply find the frakking keys for me, which would be much quicker and more satisfying (for me).  No, no, she persists in thinking that patient instruction will enable me to find them for myself.

Yes, yes, I am aware of the irony, and my students, past and present, who have such sad lives that they read this blog, are chortling in joy because, of course, this is exactly the same approach I take to teaching them to pronounce Middle English or conquer the comma or construct an interesting argument.

And to that I say, frak irony!  I want some key-finding minions, and I want them now!