Back in January when we moved to Athens, I noticed that the front door automatically locks as you shut it. Unclear if this was a Greek thing, or a European thing, or maybe just a living-in-the-city thing, I thought to myself, “I wonder how long it’ll be before I lock myself out?”
Turns out to be five months.
To my credit, I was seriously foggy from cold medication, and I was desperate to get out of the house. My children were literally climbing all over me, vying for my sole attention, so I invented an excuse to run a brief errand to the fruit stand. Liam wanted to bring his bike, so I thought we could stop at the park and let him work on his balance. It was late in the afternoon, and as I circled the block, I realized I hadn’t brought any water. So we took a detour back to the house and I quickly ran inside to get our water bottles. I remember even thinking, “Don’t forget your keys! It would really suck to lock yourself out!”
At the fruit stand I reached for my wallet and suddenly realized my keys weren’t in their usual spot in the stroller. I scoured every nook and cranny, checked my own pockets…no keys.
No need to panic. The embassy gave me a number for just such an occasion, and I had my cell phone. The security receptionist told me he’d call back in about 30 minutes when my spare keys were on their way. After I hung up, I started puzzling over how I could have done this. I very clearly remember looking right at my keys before we left. I asked Liam, “Do you remember me locking the door?” He was no help. Neither was my addled brain. Rather than wait at our sunny front door for half an hour, I took the kids to the shady park, and when we all got too cranky, we went to our favorite gelato spot, Solo Gelato. There we saw a familiar face, Evi, the friendly receptionist at my hair salon. She instantly lifted my dour spirits. She helped us decipher some of the Greek flavors, and recommended a few of the “famous” ones that had recently won some awards. Sold!
Halfway through my scoop of pistachio, we got the call. We hurried down the street and were greeted by one of the embassy security officers at our front door. And it was there that he pointed out…
I’D LEFT THE KEYS IN THE DOOR.
For the love of Pete.
So I guess technically I haven’t actually locked myself out. But I’m sure that day will come.
Later in the evening, I discovered another strange facet to this house. My garage door opener, a little FOB on my keys, has two buttons. I’m always mashing on one or the other of them to open the door. I figured one opens the door and the other does nothing, much like the extraneous light switches in our house. (According to our embassy handbook, that is a “thing” here.) But as I was sweeping the leaves off my 45 degree driveway (a dangerous proposition in flip flops), I opened the garage from the sidewalk outside and noticed something peculiar… the other button on my FOB opens the neighbor’s gate. The only reason I can think of for this is we have no outside access to our backyard except through a gate that opens to our neighbor’s driveway. So maybe we actually share this space? I have no idea. Oh, yeah. Because…Greece.