When someone is going through a difficult time, even people who mean well can say hurtful and unhelpful things. I’ve found that when I can’t find my keys, many of my friends, family and even my partner become quite intolerable and more part of the problem than the solution.
So read the list below to learn how to actually support people through this difficult time in their lives.
1. Where did you last have them?
If I knew where I’d last had them, chances are, I would know where they are. Don’t assume that someone looking for their keys has not already been through the extremely basic first steps towards finding them. Now is not the time to be patronising and obvious.
2. Have you checked on top of the fridge/beside the door/in your pocket/in all the most obvious places?
Yes. Yes, I have checked those places. That’s why I said that ‘I can’t find my keys’. I didn’t say that before I’d looked for them.
3. They’ll turn up.
Yes they probably will ‘turn up’, but will they do this in time for me to make it to my yoga class? Maybe not. Do I look like I can afford to miss that class? No. I’m really stressed and uptight right now.
4. I bet you’ve put them somewhere really weird.
Yes because wouldn’t that be hilarious! If I’d put them in the freezer! Wouldn’t that funny joke make it all worthwhile! No. I just want my keys now. I am never going to laugh about this.
5. I’ll help you look.
Let’s be clear, this is the MINIMUM you should be doing. Don’t offer to help like you’re in line for sainthood. You’re just not being a complete arsehole…yet.
6. I know it’s so frustrating when you lose something.
This kind of comment is all about making it all about you. Yes, maybe you have lost something in the past. Maybe it was important to you. Maybe you did feel frustrated when that happened to you. But nothing is more important to me, right now, than my lost personal item and you can’t understand how that really feels. So save your ‘empathy’. This is not about you.
7. Do you have a spare key?
I did have a spare key. I lost it. This is not the best time to remind me. If I still had the spare key, do you think I would be throwing all the cushions off the couch and upending the occasional tables?
8. You can borrow my car.
I don’t want to borrow your car. I want to drive my own car. And I also need my keys to get back into my house. Arsehole.
9. I can drop you at yoga and then pick you up when you’re done.
I suppose you can do that. Because you have the keys to your car. I hope you’re enjoying rubbing your privilege in my face. I guess you’ll expect me to say ‘thanks for the lift’ as well. You want me to be in your debt, forever grateful for your generosity. I don’t want to be dependent on you. I don’t want your strings attached ‘help’. I just want my keys.
10. I’ve called the yoga teacher and she’s offered to do the class at your house instead.
People who have lost their keys want to leave their houses. Don’t think that offering an alternative to the immediate reason we want to leave the house is going to the fix the problem. We want to choose when we leave our homes. We want freedom, not luxurious house arrest.
The one thing you SHOULD say:
Here are your keys, I found them in the gravy boat.