It was already past 2 a.m. on Friday night. My husband suddenly bolted out of bed, muttering, “Oh, no! She must have been locked out!” and then raced downstairs from our attic bedroom.
As soon as he opened our bedroom door, I heard the loud, incessant knocking that my husband had initially thought was part of his dream – and that was now threatening to topple our front door.
When my husband did not come back upstairs for many long minutes, I envisioned him comforting our justifiably distraught teenage daughter. She had remembered to bring a house key along with her when she went for a post-seudah walk with her friend. It was not her fault that someone had apparently locked the security latch.
However, when my better half eventually made it back upstairs, he had a more complicated tale to tell. It had not been our teenage daughter at the door, but our recently married one and her husband who had been banging their poor knuckles raw against our door.
They had been staying at their Oma and Opa’s apartment while the latter were visiting family in the U.S. After eating dinner with friends in a nearby neighborhood, they had trekked back for three-quarters of an hour, only to belatedly realize that the key to their grandparents’ apartment was gone without a trace.
It might have fallen out in the car in which they had gotten an erev Shabbos ride to their distant hosts, or been misplaced at their destination, or at any point during their long and arduous walk home. In other words, they had no idea of the key’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, they were exhausted and needed someplace to sleep.
My son-in-law’s parents live close by, so that was their first stop. But over a half-hour spent knocking with all their might yielded nothing but aching knuckles. Next they shlepped for another 15 minutes to our door, where the knocking resumed in earnest. “Your parents are up multiple times a night anyway,” our son-in-law had quipped. “It’s just a matter of time until they wake up and hear us.”
Sure enough, even from the third floor, we eventually heard their impassioned drumming, and were able to give them the key to our extra guest room. Unfortunately, because we had three nieces, miraculously still sound asleep in our other guest room – where our linen is stored – the young couple would have to make do with just pillows and comforters. Not to mention no lights or AC, since we had not anticipated that second guest room being occupied over Shabbos.
The following morning, I stopped by my boys’ room to make sure that they had woken up and gone to shul. I was greeted by a strange sight. A pink baby girl gift bag was hung on the doorknob, and a sweatshirt and hangers formed an unconventional barricade inside the entrance.
When I called my son’s name, my married daughter answered instead, groggily explaining that she had moved into the boys’ bedroom where it was cooler. Only later did I discover the unfortunate (some would say stomach-turning) reality: that she had covered her brother’s freshly laundered sheet with one she had triumphantly discovered in the bathroom laundry basket – as in, the only linen in the entire house that had not just been washed before the nine days. Also known as the linen her brother had slept on for countless weeks in yeshiva, until the z’man ended just before Shabbos. (I didn’t tell her. The poor girl had gone through enough already!)
After havdalah, the young couple drove back to their hosts of the previous evening, and then retraced their steps to try to find the missing key, but to no avail. And no spare copy to be had, except the one locked in the apartment itself… and another copy six thousand miles away with their grandparents in the U.S.
Aside from the spare key, which could not be duplicated in any case, the only key to their own apartment was locked in there as well, along with their cell phones and the rest of the worldly possessions they had brought along.
We suggested that they give tzedakah and recite the tefillah of Rav Meir Baal Haness, which many credit with helping them find lost objects. They still did not find the elusive key. But lo and behold, a brother-in-law suddenly discovered that he was inexplicably in possession of another spare key!
So ultimately they did not have to go through the hassle and expense of hiring a locksmith to “break in” and change the lock to the apartment. They were able to unlock the door and retrieve their belongings without any further drama – and with only some residual soreness in their knuckles to remind them of their convoluted adventure.