I learned one lesson the hard way. When someone says, “You’re running late, take the spare keys and find yours when you get back”— ignore them. Don’t leave until you find your keys.
All I found later was an imprint in the shape of keys in the dust on the top of my car. I must have laid them there so I could put stuff in the car. I never found them.
I learned another lesson too: Don’t do things when you’re not thinking clearly. One Saturday morning, I found one ewe dead, leaving behind week-old triplets, and another ewe showing signs of ketosis. Between calling the vet numerous times, I loaded the old truck with junk. My truck keys disappeared. Did they go to the dump? I never found them.
One snowy Friday evening this winter, I brought home 1,200 pounds of feed and 20 bags of corncob bedding with the new pickup. I kicked in the four-wheel drive and then backed up to the barn door. Then I ran to the house to change coats and clothes.
I had a one-track mind: Get things unloaded before the snow fell harder and feed everybody. Finally, over an hour later, I was done — relief! I climbed into the truck. The keys weren’t in the ignition or on the seat. I reached in my coat pocket. No keys. I reached in my overalls pocket. No keys. I reached back in all those places twice more.
This couldn’t be happening again! I retraced steps — even moving baby lambs, looking to see if the the keys fell out into the bedding. Oh no, what if they fell out while I stacked feed? I wasn’t moving all that feed.
Then it hit me. I bet I left them in my town clothes. I raced to the garage and checked my pants pockets. No keys. Ah, maybe they’re in my town coat. No keys.
“Tom, both sets of truck keys are over the desk,” said my wife, Carla, realizing I was in panic mode.
Relief! I must have put them there, forgetting I needed to bring the truck back up from the barn. I — we — found the keys!
What could be worse than thinking I lost a new truck key? On my way to Vincennes, Ind., this time in my car, I stopped for gas at a Thornton’s station, just off U.S. 41 and Interstate 70 at Terre Haute. I went inside to get a soda, paid and walked out.
Whoa! Where was my car? There were the pumps. No car. My first thought was, why would anybody steal a 10-year-old car? Then, oh no, my notes and photos from other interviews are gone. Did I lock the car? This can’t be happening!
It’s happening, Tom! It was sinking in, and I felt tingly all over. I turned to go tell the clerk. I had to tell somebody. Then I would call 911. I looked one more time. No car!
I opened the door and started toward the clerk. Then I saw it. This station had identical, mirror-image pump islands on both sides! Who does that? I literally raced to the far door. Sure enough, my car was there, safe and sound — it was even locked.
And the saving grace? I hadn’t lost my keys! I was nearly to Vincennes, though, before my heart stopped racing.