Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Cave Key

When we first moved to Paris we learned about the key situation pretty quickly. It's really difficult to make copies of your keys. We received three sets of keys from our landlord. One for me, one for my husband and an extra set we give to the person who comes to clean once a week. This was all good and well until we had our first set of guests. People want to go do the tourist stuff which I wasn't able or didn't want to always do with my infant. So they'd go do their thing while I took the kids to the park. Since they didn't have a key I'd always worry about making sure I was home early for the guests. This got old quickly, so I went to the key shop to make a new set of keys. Well, apparently, for my set of keys at least, you need to get a permission slip from the landlord. Our landlord is the nicest 80 year old you'd like to meet. He's owned the apartment forever. In fact, he told us recently, that he was arrested in the apartment by the Gestapo as part of the French resistance. My husband and I can't bring ourselves to ask for permission for an extra set. So we always give our guests my husband's keys and hope that they don't fly to the US with them.
I was reminded of this recently because my husband lost our key to the Cave/cellar. It's big key by most standards, and he could not find it. Anywhere. We tore the apartment up this summer looking for it to no avail. The cave held our bikes and I wanted to go biking so we decided, on our own, to get the locks changed. When the locksmith came, I showed him the cave door and went back upstairs to watch the kids. He was done in a short time and asked me if I'd like to see. I was shocked. He knocked out the cellar stone wall around the door. There was a big hole in the stone. Well, the door opened now. I had to give him that. He told me that the cost of opening the door is 75 euro. If I wanted him to replace the lock it would cost another 150 euro. I asked if that included plastering up the stone wall... Yes that was included in the price. I told him I'd have to talk to my husband... Maybe another day. Well the landlord lives down the street and often checks up on the apartment building... Is the concierge around? Are the garbage cans out on the street? Well I guess he also checks the cave. So one day he knocks on the door and asks if I know where the key to the cave is. He thinks there is a problem. I pretend to not understand him (which isn't too difficult) and say my husband will call him after work. When my husband gathers the courage to call the landlord and tell him that he lost this old cave key and needed to get it replaced he said "you should have asked me, I have an extra key." Our landlord felt so bad he got someone to plaster up the wall and gave us a new key. How could my husband have lost this huge key??

-- said Auntie M in Paris
3:44 PM



Auntie M-

Don't feel bad. There is an American journalist living in Paris who writes for the LA Times and when she lost her keys to her apartment, the locksmith charged her 1,000 euros. You read that correctly. Not 10. Not 100. But 1,000 euros.

You can read a little about it here: http://jasonstone.typepad.com/nycaparis/2004/08/dont_lose_your_.html

Overall, it sounds like you have an awesome landlord. I have heard much worse stories.

Now that I am thinking about it, where is my cave key...


# posted by Anonymous : 10:30 PM  

I forgot to give a friend (who was kindly letting me stay with her) the key to her apartment (or rather to put it in her letterbox), and discovered the error only when I put my hand in my pocket... in London. She was subletting and had only one key, period, and it was the most complex one I'd ever seen -- almost as long as a pen, with one long slightly hooked prong in the center surrounded by eight cylinders. I fretted about getting the key back to her by return Eurostar (or hiring a FedEx same day courier), hoping that she'd stay on a friend's couch, but she wasn't sure what had happened so she called the locksmith. The locksmith broke the door and put in a new lock, and I wired my friend 3500 francs.

# posted by Anonymous : 10:52 PM  

It's strange how the biggest keys always go missing. You've got a landlord in a million. Hang on to him!

# posted by Anji : 3:54 PM  

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