The beginning of it all

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, May 11, 2011

He had lost his keys. At the worst possible time. This interview had been scheduled for weeks, and the livelihood of his family depended on it.

Out of work for months, watching his savings dwindle, the call from R.L. Cutler and Sons could not have come at a better time. Ridley had counted down the days to this event, planning the interview scenarios with painstaking repetition. Everything had been rehearsed down to the color of his socks.

And now this. Low-level panic set in as he realized the necessity of punctuality. He needed to leave.

“Calm down,” he said to himself. “Think. Start from the beginning.”

He had searched and re-searched all his pockets and every possible location. The bowl on top the dresser where he always dropped his keys, loose change and whatever else. The dresser-drawer with knick-knacks. Under the bedroom furniture. Behind the door. In the bathroom. Everywhere it could possibly be. Nowhere to be found. He checked his watch. He should be leaving.

Low-level panic set in. “I can’t call and explain,” he deliberated.

Then a crazy thought hit him. A thought born only of desperation. He felt stupid doing it, like some helpless child or a crazed fanatic. But it was all he had.

Ridley stopped, took a deep breath, closed his eyes and said “Please help me find my keys. Please.”

At that, he went searching once again over the same paths. Bathroom, dresser, pockets, bowl — and there it was. In the bowl! All along, in the bowl! How could he have missed them?

Ridley grabbed the treasured objects and bounded out the door. In 20 seconds, he was speeding down Highway 12 toward his interview.

Only then could he take stock of what had just happened. How stupid could he be to think someone actually heard his request and answered. Insane! Were the keys not there all along? Wouldn’t he have found them anyway? Surely, it was simply a coincidence. Surely!

But then again, maybe not?

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is