When You Get Locked Out

What to do when you get locked out depends on what you’re locked out of.

Walter was having a hard time staying awake in church. His wife even had to nudge him at one time because he was snoring. On the way home, she said “The preacher talked about how Jesus works in our lives by allowing us to repeat our mistakes until we learn from them. It was a good sermon. It’s a shame you missed it.”

“I’m sure it was,” Walter said with a bit of arrogance, “but I usually learn from my mistakes. I don’t need a preacher to tell me that.”

It was Monday about midmorning and Walter’s wife and girls were at the new house and he was finishing some last minute cleaning before turning in the keys at the apartment office.

Standing in the doorway with a feeling he was forgetting something, he walked the entire apartment but didn’t see anything so he locked up and headed for the office.

He had been running all morning, moving last minute items to the house, and wanted to be somewhat settled into their new home before evening and have their first meal in their new home. The apartment office was closing at eleven o’clock and it was ten forty-five when he entered the office.

It didn’t take very long to settle everything and when he left, the woman went out with him, locked the office door, and walked with him towards the parking lot. He said goodbye to her as she got into her car and she wished them good luck at their new home as she backed out of her parking space and drove away. Walter headed for his car, searching his pockets for the keys. They were gone.

He had taken them out of his pocket in the apartment to scrape some paint off a window and laid them on the sill. The office was closed, and he had no way to get back into the apartment. So there he was in the parking lot, the cell phone was in the car and his keys were in the apartment. As he headed towards the apartment, he believed it wouldn’t have happened if the apartment office had stayed open all day. He shifted the blame.

Studying the situation for a moment, he walked around the apartment searching for a way to get his keys, and then he saw them! There they were on the window sill just inches away from him, yet he couldn’t get to them. He was pacing back and forth when he noticed the window was open just a crack. He must’ve pushed it open some when he was scraping the paint off.

He got a wire coat hanger from a neighbor and told her he needed it to unclog a sink. He didn’t want to tell her what he had done or what he was about to do. He was going to cut the screen and try to pull his keys through.

Somehow, he put a deep gash in his hand trying to get the hanger apart and it was bleeding. Pushing ahead, he used the hanger to make a slight hole in the screen, which took a while, and then he hooked the keys and began pulling them through the hole.

Feeling proud of his ingenuity, he smiled and was pulling the keys closer to the opening when he heard a voice behind him shout, “Back away from the building!”

He jumped back, let out a shout, and let go of the wire. A cop approached him; staring at the hole he had made in the screen and demanded to know what he was doing. Apparently, one of the neighbors had seen him trying to poke a hole in the screen and thought he was breaking into the apartment so they called the police.

“I can explain, officer,” he said, as the color rose in his face.

It took a little explaining, but the officer realized that Walter was telling the truth and stood by as he pulled the keys through the hole in the screen.

Walter assured him that he was going to pay for having the screen replaced and the officer said the matter was between him and the apartment complex. He just wanted to make sure that he wasn’t breaking into someone’s apartment.

Finally, Walter was in his car, driving around to the apartment mailboxes. He turned the car off and got out with his keys, unlocked the box, pulled out the mail and dropped half of it on the concrete.

Reaching down, he scooped it up and when he rose, he banged his head on the open mailbox, nearly knocking himself out. Rubbing the spot vigorously, he slammed the mailbox shut, got back into the car and cranked it. He was about to drive away when he saw an envelope on the concrete and recognized his bank statement.

Still clutching his head, which had begun to bleed, he huffed furiously, got out of the car and snatched up the envelope, hearing the car door shut. The car was running, the doors were locked, and he was on the outside looking in. If his wife hadn’t insisted that he pick up the mail on his way out, he would’ve been halfway to the storage unit. He shifted the blame.

Needless to say, Walter was having a really bad day, and as he stood there, staring at his car, rubbing his head which had begun the throb, the same police officer pulled up and got out of his cruiser.

“Did you fall?” he asked, putting his hand to Walter’s head.

Feeling like an idiot, Walter just stood there hating the embarrassment. First, he had locked his keys in the apartment, broke into it trying to get to them, and then just moments later, he was standing on the sidewalk, blood running down the side of his head, his car running and the doors locked.

“No,” was his only response as he simply held his throbbing head and stared at his car.

The cop let out a slight chuckle and said, “You’re locked out again, ain’t ya?”

Walter glanced sideways at him and was appalled at the grin on his face. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

He went to his cruiser and moments later, he came back with a long flat piece of metal, slid it into the door by the window, and unlocked the car. Of course Walter was glad and appreciative, but still really embarrassed.

“You want me to take a look at that wound on your head?” the officer asked, opening his car door.

“I’m all right,” he said, sliding into the car. “I appreciate your help.”

The storage place was Walter’s last stop and it would all be over. By that evening, he would be enjoying a nice meal with his family in his new home. He got out of the car, keys in hand, opened the trunk, and got a box out to take to the storage unit. He pushed the key into the lock, unlocked the door and took the key out, making sure he held onto them, not wanting any more accidents to happen. Then he reached down, grabbed the handle and proceeded to lift the door.

The door was about halfway up when his daughter’s globe fell out of the box. He instinctively tried to grab it, twisted his ankle, fell backwards, and the keys flew out of his hand beneath the storage door as it fell and locked!

Walter tried to stand but the pain was terrible and the ankle had already begun to swell. He hopped over to his car and leaned against it, wandering what he was going to do. The security guard came up in his golf cart and asked him if he was okay.

“No, I’m not okay!” he said, glaring furiously at the man who had only stopped to help. “I have cut my hand open trying to retrieve my keys when I locked myself out of my apartment. I gashed my head open on my mailbox when I locked myself out of my car, and I twisted my ankle when I locked my keys in the storage unit! No, I am NOT okay! Those unit doors close way too easily!” He shifted the blame.

The man paused to stare as Walter leaned against the car, wincing at the pain in his ankle. Then he said, “I can open the storage unit for you, buddy. It sounds like you’re having a really bad day.”

Walter started to feel bad, realizing the man was there to help and that he had no right to speak to him the way he did. “Hey,” he said, feeling embarrassed and ashamed. “I’m sorry, man. Yeah, I’ve had quite a day.”

The man took out a large ring of keys and opened the unit, handing Walter his keys. Then he carried the boxes into the unit for him and closed it. He even offered to take him home, but Walter thanked him and told him he thought he would be able to drive. He offered to pay him for his trouble, but the man wouldn’t take it.

When he drove off, Walter sat in his car and the words that he had hastily uttered to his wife about how he didn’t need instructions on learning from his mistakes, began to flood his mind. He realized at that moment that each and every time he had locked himself out, he blamed it on someone besides himself. He wasn’t learning from his mistakes because in his mind, he wasn’t making any.

With a humble spirit, he began his apology to the Lord.

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:6)

Leaving the storage place, Walter stopped at the emergency room. It was a severe sprain and had to be wrapped. They gave him a set of crutches and he called his wife to let her know so she and the kids wouldn’t be shocked when he got out of the car on crutches.

They were all over him when he finally got home. He was a mess. His hand, head and ankle were bandaged and he was hurting all over. The pain medicine they had given him at the hospital began to kick in and he was so glad to be home. That evening, over the first meal in their new home, Walter told them all about what had happened that day and what he had learned about himself- he was not learning from his mistakes.

He had also learned how easy it was to get locked out so when he recovered, he had duplicates made of all his keys and hid them near every lock.

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