The stereotype of teens walking around at night is that they’re either up to no good, or that they’re doing nothing.
Well, along with the camaraderie of friendship they experience, sometimes they’re coming across opportunities to help other people, whether it’s holding a door for someone, giving a hand to someone trying to lift something heavy, or finding my keys lying in the snow and delivering them to my door.
On Wednesday night around 9 p.m., I was cleaning my kitchen when I heard the telltale blare of a car alarm going off.
"At least I know it’s not mine," I thought to myself.
First of all, I hadn’t done anything that could have tripped the alarm.
But more convincingly, I had no idea where the keys with the door opener and alarm were.
I hadn’t seen those keys for three weeks, since co-workers Bethany and Anne and I went to the Minneapolis production of "Rent" together and stayed at my friend Ben’s house. I misplaced the keys at some point and used my spare set for the remainder of our stay.
So it couldn’t be my car.
But a few seconds later, there was a knock at my door.
There stood three teenagers — two boys and a girl — with my keys. They had been clever enough to hit the alarm button and then go to the door that was closest to the honking car.
"We found your keys," one of the boys said, and handed them to me.
They said the keys were in the alley, which made no sense to me, so I figured they meant the parking lot, which has a drive-through. So I figure the key chain had slid into some crevice that weekend only to get dislodged sometime over the past few weeks and hit the ground.
I was so thrilled to get my keys back! I lost my official spare set (with the other original key and door opener) a couple of years ago, so I only had one door opener, so for the last few weeks, I’ve had to open my car the old-fashioned way.
"Thank you so much," I gushed to the teens. "You are so sweet."
After I shut the door, I thought I should give them a little something, so I quickly scrounged up five bucks, but they were out of view by the time I went outside. For all I know, they live next door or in the neighborhood.
I just wanted them to know how much I appreciated their efforts. They could have just as easily walked past the keys. They not only picked them up, they figured a way to learn which car the keys went with and found the owner of that car. I think that’s more than a lot of people would have done — teens or otherwise.
And maybe they don’t think about it as that big of a deal, because it only took a couple of minutes of their time, but it was a big deal to me.