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Don’t you hate it when you lose the keys to your plane?

Last time we met in these pages, I was blabbing on about the “Big Find” — stories of those memorable times when you find something unexpected and it turns into an interesting (or just plain weird) adventure.

Last time we met in these pages, I was blabbing on about the “Big Find” — stories of those memorable times when you find something unexpected and it turns into an interesting (or just plain weird) adventure. But what can be even more interesting, weird or painfully dramatic than “Things Lost”?

Is there anything quite as frustrating and mortally inconvenient as losing your keys or your wallet? Hands up all those who have experienced a four-alarm migraine on account of something lost, misplaced or even stolen.

I’ve been there, several times in fact, and yet I still haven’t learned to hide a spare key or keep my wallet in a secure pocket. With an anvil attached to it.

One of my most epic episodes involving lost keys took place in Lethbridge, of all places, and they were keys to an airplane, of all things. Maybe I should explain.

One summer four of us were 20-something and foolish, and we’d decided we would rent an airplane and fly to Kelowna. Just for fun. Just for a few days. A little vacation time. There were Kelowna girls involved, as if we needed any more motivation to fly to Kelowna.

Luckily, one of the four of us — the oldest (at 26) — happened to have his pilot’s licence or our plan never would have gotten of the ground (haha). So one rainy day we emptied our meager bank accounts and piled into a drenched Cessna 172 four-seater and flew merrily off to . . . well, to Lethbridge. On account of the storm was so bad over the mountains that we were diverted to a scary landing in the pouring rain in Southern Alberta.

Not exactly the glorious start we had in mind.

But we checked into a hotel and made the best of the nightlife Lethbridge had to offer, and the next day we were up early, bleary-eyed and non-bushy-tailed, cabbing it to the airport. The weather was in better shape than we were, but when we got to the airplane, our intrepid pilot suddenly looked unhappy. Patting his pockets, he sheepishly announced that the keys to the plane seemed to be somewhere other than where they were supposed to be.

The much anticipated frolic in Kelowna would have to wait yet again. We searched the small airport. Inside and out. We had to summon (and pay for) the same cab to come back so we could search it. Nothing.

All we could do was return to the hotel. We checked the restaurant where we had breakfast; we checked the front desk, the back desk, the lobby, the wet lawns and the dirty parking lots.

Impatient hours had slipped away by now, and management were kind enough to let us back into the rooms we had stayed in the night before. We turned those places upside down and then some, and it was getting to the point that I think several of us were secretly checking Greyhound schedules homeward.

The only thing we could think of left to do was to retrace our previous night’s adventures, which would be a daunting task indeed since it would involve re-visiting and searching every watering hole, eatery and transportation route that we had ventured to in Lethbridge.

And there were more than a few.

We were about to give up, when someone looked at our guilt-ridden pilot and said in final desperation, “Show us one more time exactly what you did when you got in last night.”

With that, for the umpteenth time he got up and physically walked through the motions. “I threw my jacket on the chair there. …” We check the area yet again. “I went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, took out my contact lenses. …”

We are all in the bathroom now, following him around, looking under soap dishes and in garbage cans, toilet tanks, and tub drains (again). Nothing.

“Then I went over to the bed, took off my shirt and hung it up on the lamp shade and sat down of the bed and ….”

“Wait a minute,” someone said. “You hung your shirt on the lampshade?”

“Yeah, I just remembered that. The light wasn’t turned on or anything, it was safe, and. …”

“Did your shirt have a pocket?” someone else said, perking up now.

“Yeah, a breast pocket and … and … and. …” He’s approaching the tall lamp in the corner by the bed like he was sneaking up on an escaped budgie.

He slides over a chair, stands on it, peers over the top into the shade, and wouldn’t you know it — there it was, an escaped budgie. Just kidding (haha), but amazingly, the airplane keys were hanging there, the key ring hooked onto the lamp switch under the bulb — as slick as can be, as if he had carefully hung them there for safe keeping.

The keys had fallen out of his shirt pocket and caught there, impossibly out of sight inside the lampshade!

Gobsmacked, we rejoiced and headed off to the airport once again, keeping the keys in plain view at all times.

We finally made it to Kelowna and a good time was had by all, and we managed to keep track of the keys by forbidding our pilot from hanging his shirt on lamps.

Of course, on the way back home we got caught in a violent storm in the Crowsnest Pass and almost didn’t make it back alive.

And while the small plane was being thrown around like a ping pong ball in the pitch blackness of the storm I was in the back seat with my coat over my head earnestly pleading to any celestial being that would listen, and wishing we had never ever found those wretched keys.

But that’s another story.

If you have a story about Things Lost — something important that you lost or misplaced and perhaps found again (or not), I’d love to hear it.

Thanks to those who have written in about the finding something special — keep those stories coming too, they just may end up in one of these columns.

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Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate.