About a year ago, I locked myself out of my apartment.  I was heading down to the basement to move laundry from the washer to the dryer, and I closed the door without popping up the lock.  As I heard the device clicking into place, my first thought was I can’t have just locked myself out, it can’t be true.  Thankfully, I was still in my building, but unfortunately, it was true, I could not enter my apartment.

After that incident, I made copies of my keys, gave sets to friends, and then decided to also hide some so I would not be in this predicament again should my friends be unavailable to rescue me.  I had a magnetic key hider that you’re supposed to put you car keys in and then stick to your bumper, but instead I hid the key in it and secreted it away in my overgrown backyard.  This came in very handy on one occasion when Sassy Redhead needed to gain access to my apartment while I was in class, but the key hider had gotten gunked up with so much dirt that Sassy had to break it to get the key out.  So I needed a new hiding place.

My landlady has a potting shed in the backyard that has a broken lock on the door. It’s relatively clean, dry, and seemed like the perfect place to hide a spare house key.  I put the key in a tiny inconspicuous box and tucked it away in a corner of the shed.  This was about eight months ago, and I’ve rarely thought of it since.

Recently, the boys in my neighobrhood have become more and more familiar with my backyard.  Despite calling the police on them, leaving outside lights on, and pushing the panic button on my remote car opener whenever they get to close– they will not be deterred.  A while ago, they took their trespassing one step further, and brought a TV and X-Box over to the potting shed, hung sheets over the windows, and had a wonderful time for about 45 minutes until the police arrived.  Since then, things have been pretty quiet.

A couple days ago, Gentleman Caller remarked that the door to the shed was open sometimes and closed sometimes and that he found that to be strange.

“It’s the wind,” I said, certain that it was the wind doing this because I had noticed it too and decided it was the wind.

Then Gentleman Caller pointed out the unfurled lawn chair and bag of fast-food refuse.

It’s hard to argue with that.

Yesterday, the door was open again, and so I went in to find the lawn chair, a pair of men’s flannel pyjama pants, and the box that I had hidden my key in lying on the floor with no key in it.  I have no idea how long the key has been in a stranger’s hands, but this does not sit well with me.  I immediately went down to the basement with a hammer to defend myself should I find a hobo lurking in the shadows, and removed the second key I had hidden there.  Then I emailed landlady and told her how big a moron I am.  She was completely unconcerned and told me the shed was a good hiding place.

Later that evening after securely bolting the door with a bolt that has no key,Hobo-739433 I asked Gentleman Caller if he wanted to go on a hobo hunt in the basement.

“I have a hammer,” I assured him.”

“I know you do,” he said, “But the problem with hunting hobos is that they have eyes.  When you see the hobo, he also sees you, and then you have to deal with him.”

“Then we call the police and they come to collect the hobo.”

“Or, we just don’t go down there and get the locks changed as soon as possible.”

So there may be a hobo living quite uncomfortably in my basement that reeks of gasoline and is only slightly less damp than the out-of-doors, or the key was taken by the neighborhood brats as some kind of trophy.  Either way, I’m changing the locks.