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HERB BENHAM: To find lost items, stop looking

I was trying to do two things at once. I know better. Anybody with sense does too.

I was talking to a friend while getting out of the car, while locking the car, while walking into the backyard. “Whiles” can be a problem, especially when you have too many. Somewhere along my while away way I lost my key fob.

Life was better without key fobs. Fobs have an inverse relationship with flimsy and you won’t believe how much it costs to replace flimsy. Key fobs are forever breaking, running low on batteries and going on the lam.

I searched everywhere. However, when you’ve lost something, “everywhere” might as well be nowhere.

No big deal. I had the small metal override key that would at least allow me to unlock the door and I thought, might allow me to start the car. I thought wrong, remembered wrong and did wrong.

I opened the car door, that part went according to my flimsy plan, but when I did, the car alarm went off. I might as well have called for an ambulance, fire truck, police car and signaled that an air raid was imminent. Somebody was obviously up to no good and that somebody was me.

Please stop. I’ll do anything to make you stop. I put the metal key in the ignition thinking that it might start the car and turn off the alarm. Said key not only did not start the car or shut off the alarm but for a minute got stuck in the ignition and I suspect may have damaged its delicate inner workings.

A minute later, I jostled the key out and the alarm stopped. Maybe I’ll try it again, thinking that the car may have forgotten what happened the first time and during this round, would be better behaved. Once again, the alarm detonated, the key became stuck in the ignition and now my sweaty blue-and-white-striped dress shirt was glued to the seat like a postage stamp.

Free from the car, I entered the back gate and was greeted by Charlie, the little brown terrier mix who I had identified as a suspect because if I had dropped the key, he could have picked it up.

He chews on sticks, stickerballs, why not a key plastic key fob? Blaming the dog is a signal that you’re close to rock bottom. It is a less believable version of the dog-ate- my-homework.

I looked everywhere. I looked everywhere twice. In my pants pockets, front shirt pocket, shoes, under the car, in the chair on the deck and in the flowerbed with the new gardenias.

You wonder. Am I losing it? Have I lost it?

First the key fob, then your wallet, suddenly you can’t find your shoes and then the sock fairies make off with your socks.

I knew the way forward. Eventually, I had to stop looking. The only prayer of finding something is to give up and let the lost thing look for you. It’s the same with mushrooms. You don’t look for mushrooms, they have to look for you.

However, it’s hard to stop looking because even when you’re not looking, you’re looking. You know you should quit but you can’t quit because you are a broken man and you can’t use your car anymore.

The next day, I called the dealership. They didn’t have a key fob but could order one that would be here in seven to 10 days. In 10 days, I would be Walking Jesus again so I called Jeff’s Mobile Locksmith. Jeff had the key fob and would be there in 45 minutes. Jeff was my new best-friend-in-the-making.

“Text me when you get there,” I said, and he did.

The sun was shining brightly so I put on my blue newsboy hat and when I did, there was something hard inside the crease of the brim. I took off the hat, turned it upside down and there was the key fob. I hadn’t found it, it had found me.

I told Jeff to go ahead. Now I have two keys. Two keys and a good hiding place for either one.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.