I wrote this in 2014 about something that happened in either 2008 or 2009. This piece of writing was originally posted on a website that no longer exists.
I was going through the long process of applying for a job as a teacher’s aid in a special education class. One requirement was that I go observe a special education class at the high school. When it was over, I discovered that I had lost my keys.
I read “I Locked My Keys in My Car” in episode 30 of Words of Jen.
I drove to a high school that I had never been to before. My purpose was to observe a special education class that had students with severe mental disabilities. This was one small portion of a lengthy interview process. If all went well, I would end up with a job as a teacher’s aide in a special needs classroom in an elementary school.
I found the high school and figured out where I was supposed to park my car. It didn’t take long to find the office, where I was given directions to the classroom. The teacher had not been told that I was coming to observe that day, so he was not expecting me. Even so, he and his teacher’s aides were very kind to me and extremely welcoming and helpful.
When it was time to go, I picked up my bag and started digging for my keys. They were not in my bag! One of the teacher’s aides thought a student had taken my keys. This student was chronologically a high schooler, but mentally a small child who liked shiny keys with fancy key chains on them. It turned out that the student didn’t have my keys.
I had determined that my car keys were not in my bag, and that none of the special needs students that I came to observe had them. Where were my keys?
Thinking back, I thought I had the answer. When I was at the office, I had to sign in. I must have put my keys down on the counter so I could pick up the pen. I explained this to the teacher’s aids whom I’d spent the past few hours with. They told me that I was welcome to come back to their classroom if I was stranded.
The secretary at the office searched, but my keys were not there. She suggested that I retrace my steps, and look at the ground. Maybe I dropped my keys on my way to the office?
My retraced steps led me all the way back to my car. No keys! They weren’t on the ground, and they weren’t under the car. All of a sudden, I spotted them. There, comfortably sitting on the passenger’s seat, were my keys. I tried every door, but they were all locked.
Discovering that my keys were safely locked inside my car was something of a relief. There they are! I hadn’t lost them forever! It was also a source of stress. How am I going to get my keys out of my locked car?
I returned to the school’s office and spoke with the secretary again. Long story short, she came up with what seemed like a great plan. The high school just so happened to have a shop class. The teens in it were learning how to take apart, and fix, cars. Surely, the shop teacher could get my keys out of my car for me!
I was given directions to the shop class. To be polite, I waited outside the door until the bell rang, signaling that the class was over. I found the shop teacher and explained what had happened. He was willing to help me.
The problem was that he couldn’t leave the classroom. He was the only teacher and couldn’t safely leave a bunch of high school boys unattended in a room full of power tools. Instead, he found an alternative.
The shop teacher selected four teens whom he had taught to use a special tool to open locked cars. He rounded them up, explained that my keys were locked in my car, and assigned them to me. I was now leading a short parade of students to the parking lot.
The teens weren’t immediately able to open my car, but they sure tried. They were stopped, more than once, by teachers who were on a free period and who assumed these teens were breaking into someone’s car.
I had to wave at the teachers, and then convince them that I was, in fact, not a high schooler who was in cahoots with the “thieves”. I also had to emphasize that it was my car they were breaking into, and that I wanted them to do it. Some of the teachers did not seem very convinced by my explanation. Fortunately, I still had my visitor’s sticker adhered to my shirt. It proved I was an adult!
Eventually, the shop teacher came to the parking lot to check on the teens. He was riding in a golf cart along with the school custodian. The shop teacher took the tool from one of the teens, quickly popped open my car for me, and sent the teens back to class. Just like that, I was on my way, with a new story to share!
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