August 4, 2003

Forget Me Not

I have a problem.

I have no short term memory. It's not so much that I forget things, but more that I fail to remember things in the first place. Once my mind becomes focused on a specific thought, it basically stops paying attention to the rest of the world, including any actions I may be performing. At this exact moment, I have no clue where my building ID card is. It was on top of my dresser Friday night, I started to get ready to leave for the weekend (more on that later), and then it was gone. No, I didn't pack it. Yes, I checked. Yes, I checked again. Let's move on, ok?

The real mental hiccup occurred last Thursday. After riding my mountain bike to work, I locked it up as usual. I have one of those super-strong, U-shaped locks that are all but inpenetrable. Rumor is that it's constructed out of the same material as airplanes' black boxes. So, knowing my bicycle was secure, I decided it would be a good idea to transfer the key from the string it was on to my key chain. With this thought in mind, I wandered over to a nearby desk and began to take it off the flimsy shoelace that it was on. This is were my memory goes fuzzy.

Next thing I know, it's 6:30 PM and I'm getting ready to go home, but there is no bike-lock key on my key-chain. Instead, there is a key I've never seen before. Deciding I need to solve the mystery of the missing key before tackling the mystery of the new key, I begin to take action. I ask around, check the area around my bike, send a few emails, locate our buildings lost & found, etc... I even went so far as to clean my desk. Alas, my searching was in vain. After accepting my fate, I put my spare lock on the bike (What? You don't carry a spare lock?), and then took the subway home, defeated.

This problem isn't really my fault, it's genetic. Most of the time, it takes my relatives three tries to get my name right. My Mom's even gone so far as to get a small voice recorder, to be used as a substitute short-term memory. Unfortunately, all of the messages say "Why'd I press this damn button?!?"

Ok, back to the bike. This is not a big problem. I'll just get the back-up key, right? Wrong. There is no back-up key. Long story short, I borrowed the lock, and the lock's owner already lost the first key. So basically, I'm in a bad situation. My bike is locked at work, I have no key, and I refuse to pay a locksmith. This means if I don't find the key the next day (Friday), I was going to have spend all day Saturday trying to cut through an inch of steel with a hacksaw. I have no idea if that will even work, but that is my back-up plan.

Friday comes, and I spend the better part of the day retracing my steps. Still, there is no sign of the key. Finally, one of the maintenance workers remembers that he found a key sitting on top of the desk near my bike. What did he do with it? He put in another desk's drawer, of course. Sure enough, we go to the other desk, open up it's drawer, and there sits my key.

I still didn't have a clue where the other key came from, but I was beginning to form a theory. Becoming lost in thought, my body remembered that the task at hand was to add a key to a keychain. Not having the smartest subconscious, it wasn't fussy about which key. The mystery key must have been sitting on the desk, which clearly met the once criteria my mind was looking for. Without another thought, the key quickly was added to my keychain. In hindsight, I should be glad I ended up with the right keychain.

As for the mystery key, I assumed it was for the desk next to my bike. After testing, this proved to be correct. With the mystery solved, I left the key on top of the desk, presumably to be moved to a random location by the building's crack maintenance staff.
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