28.10.2010

Getting copies of your keys made. This errand is unthinkably mundane whenever it befalls you. Yet, by their mid-twenties, most people have done it so few times that they don’t know where to go or how to go about it. Add to that living in a foreign country, where you never know where to go or how to go about anything.
Thus came, rare yet inevitable, the moment when I realized I would have to get my keys copied. Could I do it here in town? How much would it cost? How long would it take? I had these questions the first time I had to copy keys, in the States. I pondered them for exactly 5 seconds before googling “key duplication 97214” and all was revealed. I went to Home Depot, watched a teenager shove my key into a machine, and within 5 minutes and 3 dollars, I had another key.
Without the internet, I have to rely on the knowledge and helpful nature of my local friends. Luckily, it’s abundant. My coworker, Nataliya, walked me home and showed me the key duplication shop in town: a guy’s garage, across the street from my apartment. Once again, something I thought would be elaborate and difficult in a Peace Corps country is actually easier than it is at home.
It’s a little different from Home Depot, though. The garage is always locked when it’s cold. Customers are invited into the adjacent block to knock on the door of the guy’s apartment. When I got there, he was speaking to a woman in front of me about duplicating her keys. He’s well into his sixties and wears a long tan coat and bifocals. I handed him my keys and he said he could copy them while I waited.
We crossed the lot and unlocked his garage. In the back was an unheated room with all his machinery. “I stay inside in the winter to be warm.” He said absently, eyeballing one of the fresh copies in the lower lens of his bifocals. I stood in the doorway. With his work table, the room was too narrow for two people. An impressive array of wrenches hung from one wall. On low shelves above the table was the usual miscellany of a man’s tool shed, including several tubs of lacquer, paint and caulking, each about 25% full.
After each copy came out of his duplication machine, he held it up the light and compared it to the original. Sometimes he would take one edge to another machine, a little table-sander. After 10 minutes he gave me my keys along with the fresh ones, “Here you are dear!”
He had more keys to make, and would stay in the garage. I thanked him and wished him a good day. “And an even better day to you!” He called after me.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “28.10.2010

  1. james

    I love the fact that he finished them by hand. Was that just for Craftsman’s Flourish, since he did have a duplicating machine?

  2. Community is beautiful!

  3. Julie

    this made me think about how different the situation is in taiwan, yet in some ways the same — for some reason, there are multitudes of key copying shops in taiwan and you know this because there’s always a giant picture of a key on them, pointing them out. in my old neighborhood in taipei, there were probably 8 of them. these are also the places that make your name stamp, which i thought was unrelated, but when you think about it, making a name a stamp is pretty much the same thing as a key.

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