I locked myself out of my own apartment the other day. Because I rent, I am not allowed to duplicate the keys, so I don’t have duplicates. Because it was the weekend, my landlord was out of town and not due back until Monday morning.
Luckily, the situation fixed itself fairly quickly, but it did get me thinking about what to do if you lose your keys and how you can be prepared in case you lock yourself out of your apartment.
Stranded Outside Your Own Home
We all think it won’t happen, and I am very conscientious, but it seems to happen on its own anyway about once a year. In my case I literally walked right out of the door and as soon as it shut I realized the keys were still hanging on the doorknob inside.
As I strolled around running a few errands while waiting to hear back from my landlord, I realized the whole experience could have been much worse if it weren’t for a few things:
Fully charged and loaded cell phone
Bear with me before you cry that this is “so obvious!” Readers my age and older might remember that seemingly not so long ago, it was still common to find working public payphones never too far away from where and when you needed them. These days, it can seem that if you find one at all it’s bound to be broken and vandalized. Hence why I really appreciate my cell phone, but of course, if you’re not on an automated billing plan, you need to be sure your phone is fully topped-up. And even that won’t matter if your phone isn’t charged.
So: consider carrying a charger with you, too – if you’re like me and don’t use your cell regularly you may forget to have it charged. I was able to call my landlord and he was able to call me back (another thing the old payphones didn’t always allow) to arrange getting back into the apartment.
Cash (in the wallet or on a credit card)
Again, this is obvious, but it just goes to prove the point. You may have cash sitting in your bank account, but if you’re not in walking distance of an ATM, you might be out of luck. Cash and credit cards work better if you’re stranded anywhere. Why might you need extra cash? Well, say you have to wait around for even a few extra hours – you need to spend that time somewhere, perhaps in a restaurant or cafe – you’ll need money for eating there. And what if your landlord can’t make it back for another day? If you don’t have friends or family nearby, you might even need to stay at a hotel for the night.
Water and snacks in your bag or purse
With cash, you can buy something to drink if you really needed to, but what if you had to travel to an area far away from your home? What if you took the bus out to a suburb shopping mall and didn’t realize until you got there that you left your keys inside? What if the place where you are doesn’t have a store nearby where you could get something to eat? Or the vending machine in the office you’re visiting just happens to be out of order? I’m sure you can think of other scenarios.
If you drive a car, you might think you don’t have anything to worry about since it’s easy enough to drive some place else. But you are never more than an empty tank of gas or engine problem away from being in the same situation. It helps to pack your bag as if you’re going on a hike in the wilderness: keep a small bottle of water and keep a small bag of nuts or a granola bar handy, because you never know where you’ll be or how long you might have to wait for things to return to normal.
Book/ Paper/ Journal
In these days of the iPhone, netbook and smartbook, it might seem as if we never have to fear never being connected again. We can’t possibly “fall off the grid,” right? But your netbook can only survive for so long on its own battery and besides, maybe you aren’t a Pavlovian hyper-adopter and don’t jump on each new product that Apple puts out on the conveyor belt. There are lots of people who won’t be buying iPhones and laptops, yes, even some members of Generations X and Y.
I suggest keeping a book or journal with you so that you can still be productive and able to manage your time when you’re not in control of the rest of the situation. If you’ve got pen and paper you can spend the time making important notes, to-do lists, or working out your thoughts on whatever projects you’ve got on the go. Some people might not think this is necessary, but imagine how it could feel if you were also without your phone or any cash/cards. You might be quite happy to have something else to do.
Mitts/ Hat/ Sunglasses/ Sunscreen
Depending on what time of year it is and where you live (and how long you have to wait to get back inside), you might also want to make sure you carry around a couple basics to help you get through harsh weather conditions. In an urban area it’s usually possible to wait indoors somewhere, but sometimes this might not be easy – it all depends on where you are. So you might want some sunscreen or a hat. If you have a micro-sized umbrella or even a micro-towel, that could also be handy to have.
It might seem as if this is all too much to carry with you, but it doesn’t have to be. A small bag can hold it all quite easily. There are plenty of professional-looking satchels and over-the-shoulder bags that can also do the trick.
Also, the home security situation is different for renters. If it was your own home you were locked out of, you might consider breaking in a window if you absolutely had to – but you obviously can’t do this in an apartment, especially if you don’t live on the first floor. Chalk this all up to another reason it might be better to own your home rather than rent.
What do you think – have you ever locked yourself out of your apartment or found yourself without a key item you’d left behind? Tell us in the comments.
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