Moving is the art of balancing competing frustrations without losing your mind. Unfriendly building managers. Movers that don’t show up on schedule. Elevators that are hijacked by other tenants. Unreasonable landlords. Suitcases that don’t close. Boxes that break. Couches that don’t fit through the door. Cleaning until midnight on the 31st.
Thankfully, these petty annoyances are all behind me now that I have successfully moved out of my apartment and have been granted temporary refuge with LG and MM.
The most frustrating aspect of this year’s move, however, at least makes for a good story. A story that has me wandering the streets of Vancouver one night in late August without a place to sleep because my landlord inadvertently locked me out of my apartment.
Despite having nearly two months’ notice that I was moving out on September 1, my landlord did not start showing my apartment to potential tenants until late August. She set up some times for people to come see the apartment the week of August 19, only to discover at the last minute that she had lost her key to the apartment. She asked me to make a copy of my key over the weekend and leave it with concierge so that she could show the apartment on the following Monday.
Although I was busy trying to organize things for my move halfway across the world and key cutting was not at the top of my list of priorities, I was determined to do whatever it took to expedite the process of renting out the apartment for September 1. And so, on the Sunday afternoon I set out to get my key copied. A google search did not turn up any key cutters in Gastown. I did find a locksmith who has an office on the 30th floor of my building, but when I called him he indicated that he specializes in emergency locksmith services only and would not copy my key. He advised me that all reputable key cutters were closed over the weekend, and warned me against taking my keys to someone in the mall because, in his view, “those machines are never calibrated properly” and the people working them are “clueless”. I admit that I rolled my eyes.
After some more google searching I did find a key cutter in Chinatown, but when I trudged over there I found the shop was closed. I was on my way to the mall when I came across a small shop on Pender Street with a key cutting sign in the window. Perfect. I went in and asked for two copies of my key. The man behind the counter studied my key for a suspciously long time, measured it against various slabs of metal, and compared it to other keys that he had in his pocket. Finally, he looked up and advised me that he would be able to successfully copy the key. It is at this point that I began to have my doubts. I looked around the shop and noticed that the key cutting machine had clearly not been used in quite awhile; it was covered with books, food, boxes of cigarettes, and other junk. After several long minutes of labouring at the key cutting machine, I was presented with a shiny new key.
It was only when I got home later that night that I realized that the copy was defective. I phoned my landlord to tell her that the key-copying had not been successful, and we arranged for me to leave my key with the concierge so that she could show the apartment to potential tenants. When my landlord was done, she would leave the key at concierge for me to pick up. I left the defective key on my kitchen counter and left for the day.
I went out for dinner that night to celebrate a friend’s stagette, and received a text message from my landlord letting me know that the viewing was over and that she had left the key for me at concierge. I got home at about 10:30, picked up the key, and went upstairs. I put the key in the lock and it didn’t turn. I tried again. And again.
It slowly dawned on me that my landlord had left the defective key with the concierge rather than the one I had left for her. I made a few frantic phone calls to her, none of which were answered, and was faced with the sinking realization that she had likely gone to bed and I was locked out for the night. I made a few more frantic phone calls to friends who lived nearby and realized that most of my friends had probably all gone to bed as well.
I tried the keys a few more times, and then sent a text message to AB imploring her to pick up her phone because there was an emergency. Thankfully, this worked and she agreed to let me sleep on her couch if I would sit quietly through the Bachelor Pad. She also gave me flannel pyjamas (perfect for late August weather), contact lens solution, and toothpaste. Crisis averted.
I had plans the next morning, however, and it was a bit embarassing to show up wearing my clothes from the night before.
Next time I decide to pack up and move to Tanzania I am going to make sure that I hire a reputable locksmith.