All is Well That Ends Well

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Author: Br. Jerry Smith

It was 4:00 pm one recent afternoon, closing time at the House of Peace. And there was a crisis—long time, devoted volunteer Mattie, could not find her car keys. But not only her car keys—house keys and mailbox keys were also on that missing ring.

Search after search of the immediate premises turned up nothing. Finally an unflappable Mattie concluded that she must have somehow dropped the keys into a shopping bag that a client had subsequently filled with clothing items and taken home. Mattie recalled the lady’s face, but knew not her name or phone number.

A call to the auto dealership reassured Mattie that they could easily cut her a replacement key. And at her request I readily agreed to drive her there, ten miles away on busy Fond du Lac Avenue during evening rush hour. But we made it, and upon arrival I drove up as close to the service door as I could so that Mattie-- who has serious mobility problems--would have to walk as short a distance as possible.

I went to park the car, and then as I entered the service department, Richard—another volunteer who had graciously agreed to accompany us—met me at the door. “We have another problem,” he said. The key cost $65, and Mattie did not have the money. Breathing a sigh of gratitude for the invention of credit cards, I told Richard that I could pay the charge. So the technician disappeared into the back; a moment later we heard the whine of a saw cutting metal, and moments later Ms Mattie had a new key in her hand. 

Back at Mattie’s car thirty-five minutes later, however, our relief turned to incredulity as the key fit into the door lock but refused to turn. A call to the dealership brought the news that they were closing in five minutes; they advised calling road service. Road service informed us that they could indeed get into the car (we were hoping that perhaps the key would fit the ignition, even if it would not open the door), but that there would be an hour wait.

An hour turned into sixty-five minutes, then seventy and finally seventy-five. At last a truck pulled up, though, and within minutes the service man had the car door open. With bated breath we inserted the key into the ignition----and it would not turn! Over three hours later we were right back where we had started at 4:00 pm.

The service man asked, “What do you want to do? Should I call to have the car towed to the dealership?” But Mattie had had enough. “Just take me home,” she said. “I’m cold, hungry and tired. And I have to go to the bathroom really bad.”

Often during the night I wondered how Mattie was faring—how long did it take building security too arrive and let her into her apartment? (Richard and I had left once we had gotten her safely into the lobby.) Was she worried about her car, seemingly vulnerable on that almost deserted street? How would this episode affect her plans to move to Texas three days hence?

At noon the next day I phoned the House of Peace, and was told that the car had awakened intact and undisturbed right where it had been left the previous night. Furthermore, the lady into whose shopping bag the keys had been “deposited” had been by earlier that morning to return them. And Ms Mattie had now since then triumphantly driven off in her car, headed for Texas. All had turned out well.