You know that saying about things going down the drain? For example, “Christmas is just around the corner, so I guess that means my diet’s going down the drain!” or “What’s that you say, James Packer? Mariah’s being a total diva re your breakup? Well I guess that’s 50 million dollars down the drain!” Today, I literally, had cause to use this phrase, when I said “My car key is down the drain!”
I was working from home on Friday when at 2.50pm I cut short my Instagram webinar (which I’d been taking part in since I downed tools on my actual paying job at 2.30) to do school pickup.
Thinking I’d only be gone for the 15 minutes it took to drive to school, collect Spider Boy and return home, I left the house only with my car key and phone. I exited via the internal door that leads to the garage and left it unlocked, so I only needed the garage remote to get back into the house.
I collected my happy little boy and we chatted about school swimming, his portfolio of schoolwork , his report and other last-days-of-school events as we walked to the car.
I clicked the car key to unlock the door, and then ol’ butterfingers (that would be me) just dropped the car key. It landed in the gutter – right near the entrance to the storm water drain. Before I knew what was happening, I saw the car key and the attached garage door remote button begin its descent into hell, sliding down the slight incline into the drain, as if in slow motion. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“Noooooooooo!” I thought. They were gone. I knew in that moment there was no way I could retrieve them. Gone, gone, gone. Down the drain.
I told Spider Boy what this meant and he wasn’t happy. We couldn’t start the car, drive it, or even get back into the house. I had no wallet, no money, very little water, and about 21 per cent battery charge on my phone on this hard, hot day in suburban Canberra. I noticed a local phone number engraved into the concrete lid of the drain. I dialled the number on my barely energised phone. Anything less than 60 per cent makes me nervous at the best of times.
“No Love, we just make the drain covers, we’ve got nothing to do with opening them,” said the man who answered, denying my request to “open the drain” for me.
“Call TAMS” he told me. Ugghh. More battery power. For non-Canberrans reading this, TAMS is Territory and Municipal Services. But thanks to my recent stint working for the ACT Government, I know that TAMS is now called Transport Canberra and City Services and that I needed to call Access Canberra, the umbrella organisation that organises all the other organisations.
I called Access Canberra. Then I called my ex-husband and my ex-husband’s brother about the spare key to my house, taking some comfort in my ex’s brother remarking that the whole thing sounded like a Seinfeld episode. Then I called my dad in Sydney, thinking he might have some ideas about how I could get the garage door open without the remote or a key, with my
21, 19, 17 percent battery. “Pet, I think you’d better call emergency services”. Gee thanks dad. Maybe I should just call Dr.Beat, or Ghostbusters.
“Okthxbye!” was all I could say as I tried to wrap up conversations as I had to save battery power for Access Canberra, knowing they might call me back to tell me if and when they were coming to rescue me.
Spider Boy had collapsed dramatically across the back seat of the car; “We’re going to be late for Woden plaza!” he almost cried.
“Why don’t you show me your portfolio while we wait” I said trying to fill the time usefully but then realising I needed to keep an eye out for an ACT Government vehicle so I could alert them to our location.
I called back Access Canberra to see how things were tracking, and the helpful contact centre officer put me on hold so she could call the rather excitingly named “Storm water team”, and came back to me a short time later to say they were on their way.
Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, after SB and I cracked a few jokes about the Allianz insurance ad, there they were! I have never been more thrilled to see an ACT Government logo in all my life.
The two men who jumped out were so good about me just dropping my key down the drain. They didn’t roll their eyes, make a joke, sigh or huff or puff. They just got on with the job like the professionals that they are. Imagine Spider Boy’s (and my) excitement when they grabbed a big metal hook and pulled off the concrete lid of the drain, opening up the footpath like a couple of surgeons in hi-vis vests.
We looked down the hole and there it was, at the bottom of an 8-foot drop, my key and it’s accompanying pink garage door remote lying on a pile of gum leaves at the bottom of the drain. Lucky it wasn’t raining. “But how are we going to reach it?” I said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get down there ” And the younger of the two men just climbed down the drain and retrieved the key for me. We thanked them profusely and they were all humble and told us to have a good weekend. So professional. I went straight home and called Access Canberra to praise the Roads ACT staff at Transport Canberra and City Services. And I’ll be writing a letter.
As we drove home, I expressed to Spider Boy how those men were like heroes, coming in and fixing a sticky situation for us, quickly and professionally. Spider Boy was also impressed.
“Before they got there I imagined the Ninja Turtles being down the drain and crawling out to give us our key… and then it really happened” he said. Yes, except our key-rescuer was a human man and not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. But almost the same thing. “Oh and I imagined the drain would look like a sewerage-lair, but it didn’t” he added.
“I thought it was the worst day of our lives, and now it’s the best day!” he continued. Spider Boy and I basked in the sweet relief of being able to drive the car home and get back into the house.
I called my dad. He was impressed with Access Canberra too. “If this had happened in Sydney you’d be waiting till next year.” Too right.
I tried to turn the whole episode into a teachable moment because I’m just one of those annoying people:
- Bad things happen in life, but they serve to help us appreciate the good times, or at least the times when nothing is going wrong.
- Times when nothing is going wrong are good times! This is why the Alexcellent Life embraces the “Joy in the ordinary”
- Never leave home without the house key in case the garage door remote breaks or falls down a drain.
- Acquire a spare car key and spare garage door key and keep them in the house.
- Give a spare house key to someone you trust. Having to get a locksmith is expensive.
Have you had a great customer service experience recently?
Ever lost anything down a drain?
No stories like this but I give my grown children my keys to my apartment. I try to keep keys to my car in a memorable place. My grandkids are possibly my undermining factor, since they tend to like to play with “real” keys. 🙂
Happy holidays to you and Spider Man.