Can’t Live With Them…Or Something Like That

So, our very lovely apartment has a ridiculous amount of security. A front door that looks like a bank vault. Special fancy keys, and and even special-er little piece of plastic with a transponder in it that makes the elevator work.

This means that every time I have guests I have to go up and down in the elevator like a trained monkey to let them all in, but whatever. The important thing is that we are safe from the raging hordes of bloodthirsty criminals for which Vienna is well known, right? Oh wait…

Anyway, replacing the key costs about 50 Euros. That in itself is crazy. The little piece of plastic costs about 200 Euros. That is JUST FREAKING INSANE.

Here’s the thing. We have a teenager. A seventeen year old, with places to go, people to see, you know, all that stuff. Who, of course, needs a key. And who, of course, loses it. Repeatedly.

The first time we cut him some slack. It’s not his fault that the stupid keys cost so much to replace. If we were in the states, I could replace a simple house key for under $5. Heck, I could replace all the locks in the house for less than what one set of these keys here cost.

We replaced the keys, and I got him a key chain that clips to his belt.

The second time, we were slightly more aggravated, but told him he could pay us back for the keys when he works this summer (as a privileged TCK, there are no real work options for him during the school year, more’s the pity). He promised to check the lost and found at school, and we got started trying to figure out how to locate lost property in Vienna (in German).

I found a key chain I could write on with a Sharpie, and put his cell phone number on it. And ordered one of these “janitor” key rings, because, you know, I am a practical and helpful mother. Actually I ordered two, one to use and one to lose.

The third time he lost his keys, just a couple of weeks later, even he realized this was becoming a problem. He was upset, as he should have been. Partly because we were all out of keys, and we certainly weren’t giving him ours. So, he had to come home at a decent hour so we could let him in. Oh, the humanity!

Today, I went over to what was supposed to be a lost and found office and tried to explain in my German (of which I speak very little, did I mention that?) and in sign language (which I now speak pretty well by now), about the keys. No luck.

Called the school, and asked if they had any keys in the lost and found. Yes, they had several sets (good, it’s not just my kid!) I schlepped over to the school, and lo and behold, keys #2 were there, IN THE LOST AND FOUND BOX WHICH MY KID WALKS RIGHT PAST ABOUT TWENTY TIMES EVERY DAY.

Well, good, at least we found these, I thought. Even though one of them was broken off, probably while trying to open a beer bottle or something. It was the key to the basement, not the apartment, though, so no problem until we have to pay for it.

I took the transponder off, because any kid who loses keys at this rate really doesn’t need a 200 Euro key chain. And, he’s young and strong, he can climb the stairs, right? Six flights ought to be cake for a seventeen year old. Unless, I don’t know, he’s stupid enough to take up smoking or something.

Plus, there is the whole lost and found thing, which frankly, makes me want to kill him.

When said teenager came home, I presented him with the keys.

Look what I found in your school lost and found.  Please try to hang on to them this time.

Where is the plastic thing for the elevator? 

I took it off for the moment because it is the most expensive part and you don’t actually need it to get in. You can ring for the elevator most times like you are now, and you can walk up the stairs if we aren’t home or are asleep. 

 I can’t use the elevator without the plastic thing! I don’t want the stupid keys!  

Door slams.

You’re welcome.

A perfect demonstration of why an empty nest starts to look pretty darn good after a while.

Is it 5 o’clock yet?


  1. After going through several remarkably similar incidents with oldest in Germany I looked at the the younger 3 and wondered why I thought ore kids were a good idea. If I had quit while I was ahead I would be an empty nester now instead of homeschooling 3 little ones in Africa. Good thing I love them all.


  2. My daughter is 16 and my position has been reduced to ATM and driver. Infuriating, because oftentimes when you leave them to fend for themselves in hopes of “letting them learn,” it just adds expense, complicates and inconveniences YOUR life. Not their’s.


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