From early on, when some of us were latch-key kids, we understood how important keys were. They opened doors to places where we needed to be. If we were entrusted with them it was critical that we not lose them (or hope that a neighbor, given a spare, would be at home). As the years passed on, rings or holders had to accommodate a growing number of keys: front and back door keys, mail box keys, office keys (including one for the bathroom), vault keys, locker keys, car keys, trunk keys, keys to neighbors’ doors and parents’ apartments. As keys were added, key rings grew heavier and more unwieldy; and finding the right one predictably more challenging. Fortunately, keys were not all alike and in time we learned to recognize most either by color, size, shape or teeth configurations. Or we added a piece of tape or altered the surface area somehow for easier identification. But then we complicated matters by adding new keys from time to time.
Every so often, frustrated by delays in picking out the right one, we’d consider lightening up, pruning our key rings. Reduce the number we carry to more manageable levels – a worthy task to be sure. Easier said than done. With key congestion having long ago set in, our failure to eliminate keys only produced confusion. On the ring were some whose purpose could not be recalled. No doubt several were no longer needed, but how could we be sure? Where there was no uncertainty we disposed of the key. But that still left a few for which we could not account. So we keep them on the ring, hoping that one day we will. Better safe than locked out.