The Shed key

In my back yard is one of those outbuildings used to store things like tools, fire ant killer, lawn mowers and pots that once held mums. My shed also keeps the bins where I gather up recyclables until I get the urge to haul them off to the drop off center on my way to work. It is also been known to house the odd bird nest and “well-placed” yellow jacket colony.

I usually don’t go into the shed that much unless I need to treat the yard for another infestation of those tiny toe biting ants, or to throw paper or plastic into one of my bins, so it took me awhile to notice that the key to the shed was missing. I usually keep household keys on hooks in one of my kitchen cabinets and sometimes they get knocked off. I looked, but no key.

Sometimes if we are in and out we’ll put the key on the counter or on my dinette table, but no key there either. As it is well established that I have the memory capacity of a colander I knew that it was possible that I had set the key down somewhere other then the usual locations. So I searched my office, all pockets of any pants I may have worn, and all through my bedroom. Still no key. I enlisted the aid of the daughter in residence. She assisted by insisting she had nothing to do with it’s disappearance. I mentioned the fact that the key was missing to my boyfriend. He had been present the last two times we were in the shed. He couldn’t remember who had last seen or touched that key.  He was just as mystified as I.

I suspected that we may have left the key inside the shed, but there was no way of checking without actually getting into the shed. Therein lay the real problem, the lock itself.

The locking mechanism that kept the contents of my shed from any and all would-be thieves was an engineering marvel. That lock would make anyone hoping to steal the ten year old lawn mower and the motley collection of old garden pots wish they’d brought a blow torch instead of bolt cutters. This lock, the testosterone overkill, the homeland security version, the big-daddy of all padlocks was installed by my ex husband who was determined that no one get inside except through proper channels. The system worked quite well. Before, when the lock was open, the key usually stayed attached to the lock until time to replace the lock back in place. When we parted ways, at the end of the marriage that mother of all shed locks stayed behind. That wasn’t a problem until I lost the “proper channels”.

Knowing I’d have to eventually get into the shed one way or the other, I expanded my search for the missing key. I searched all over my office, and my bedroom again, to no avail. Suspecting that a member of the FFA may have discovered the key and had batted it off the counter or the dinette table, I looked at all possible places a feline could hook shot a key into. That meant under the stove or the refrigerator. My foray under the two appliances yielded 14 half chewed drinking straws, a near full alphabet of refrigerator magnets, 6 pull tabs from milk jugs, four milk jug caps, 8 pencils 3 pens, and small unidentifiable bits. The location of the key remained a mystery.

Finally it was decided to at least get into the shed through other means. that “other means” meant that we’d be opening the door by removing the hinges. Armed with the tools from my little kitchen tool box, my boyfriend easily removed the bolts that kept the door attached to the frame. Once released, we moved the door aside as best we could and looked inside the now accessible shed. No key.

Having solved that mystery, now the question was how to make easy access to the shed’s interior without having the door being held in place by metal bar, that kept there by that key-less lock. I got the bright idea that freeing the door from the bar, would make it possible for the door to swing open and close without it being held in place. My sweet boyfriend should have noticed the Lucy in my persona and realized that he was about to be put into the role of Ethel. My bright ideas when it comes to anything related to a task involving tools are always comedies of errors. I seem to bring out the farce in home maitenence.

He didn’t see the flaw in my plan, so agreed to try to help me free the door from the bar. It took a good fifteen minutes of twisting, adjusting, lifting, more twisting, mumbled curses and a bit more maneuvering, the door was finally freed from all encumberments. It was then that we realized just how flimsy that door actually was being not much more then press board and wobbly framing. Gary quipped, “We could have probably saved us a lot of work and just kicked the stupid door in.”

We had already tried in vain to remove bar, which I later learned was called a hasp, and the latch to which the lock was still firmly attached. The problem was that either the screws were not reachable with the door in its place, or they were so badly stripped out that removing them was quite difficult with my paltry set of tools. We went about putting the door back into place. Getting the locking mechanism itself completely removed was not going to be an easy task, so we decided to try again another day. We’d just put the door back on so I could at least keep my junk secured.

Gary was on the next to the last bolt, when I noticed it. My grand Lucy-esque plan had revealed itself for the stupid idea that it was. Although we had freed the door from the hasp that helped keep the door closed and locked, that same hasp was still held firmly in place by, you guessed it, that damned lock. The door could not open, because the hasp was still locked into the same place it had been since I lost that key. It was blocking the door completely. This Ethel was proving to be a much more patient Ethel then the last one, but I knew not to push it. Besides “Lucy” was already beating at the lock with her hammer in frustration.  The hammer was gently removed from my hands and “Ethel” better known as Gary, said “Come on. We’re going to Lowes.”

At Lowes we bought a new padlock, and a latching system, plus a 2×4. A few days later the board holding the old locking system was removed and everything was replaced. I now have two keys, in separate locations, and a padlocked shed that I can get into. If I happen to lose both keys this time, my problem will be solved by a set of bolt cutters.

Now I have to face the fact that the shed really needs to be cleaned out and organized. I need help. Anyone want to volunteer to be Ethel for the task?


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