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Jagged Mountain and the Case of the Missing Keys – by Kyle Calhoun

(Reposted from our facebook page: Story by Kyle Calhoun)


I have a story to tell. It’s a long story but a true story, and it’s worth the telling.

Jagged Mountain and the Case of the Missing Keys

I usually take the bus when I need to work onsite in downtown Denver, but last week I could not find a parking space at the Wagon Road Park and Ride on 120th and I-25, so I decided to drive into the city. As a matter of chance, I found an inexpensive parking lot, which costs less than the price of bus fare. The lot is four blocks north of my office building, but exercise is always a good thing, so I have been driving for a few days and walking the four blocks to work. As a result of finding the lot and walking those blocks, I walk passed a small brewpub called Jagged Mountain on the corner of 20th and Larimer. This day is no different, except that it is -11°, and I keep thinking that I should be working from home in my pajamas next to a roaring fire instead of watching my breath freeze as it leaves my lungs.


I arrive in the office as usual. Meet with my manager and report on the status of our project as usual. Put in my day as usual. And when my working day is done, I pack up my laptop, put on my coat and scarf, and then tuck my security badge safely into my laptop backpack. (I make a conscious effort to do so because I have a tendency to leave it attached to the clothes I wear.) I retrieve my gloves and hat, and I adjust my brain so that I am ready to brave the staggeringly frigid air again.


As a matter of habit, I also unpack my car keys so that I do not need to fumble for them when I get to the car. I reach for those keys in the usual place.


No keys.


I look in my not-so-usual place.


No keys.


I look in my less-than-not-so-usual place.


No keys.


I take EVERYTHING out of my bag and my backpack and my coat and then pat myself down like a TSA agent looking for liquid nitrogen.


No keys.


Deep breath. Maybe someone left them at the security desk. I ride the elevator to the lobby and inquire at the desk.


No keys.


Deep breath. It’s time to panic. I call home. No answer, but I know that someone is home so I stay on the line saying, “Okay, pick up the phone, pick up the phone. I need to talk to someone.


Pick up the phone. Pick up, pick up, pick up, Pick Up, PICK UP THE PHONE!!”


“We’re here.”


“Hi. I lost the car keys.”


“Did you pray to St. Anthony?”


“I LOST the car keys.”


My husband agrees to drive to Denver with the extra keys, but I tell him to wait until I call again because I hope that I dropped the keys right outside the car door and that I will not need a ride home after all. As I am saying this, I realize that my worst fear is that I dropped the keys right outside the car door and someone used them to steal the car.


To the best of my memory, I retrace my steps to the parking lot.


No keys, but…the car remains.


I call my husband to tell him that the car is in the lot and that I will be waiting for him in the Jagged Mountain brewpub on the corner of 20th and Larimer.


I sit at the bar. They only serve beer. I order a beer.


The bartender reminds me of Eliot Spencer, rugged and tough but a truly nice guy. After I order the strongest beer on the menu, he politely asks if I’ve ever been in before.


“No, but I walk by every day on my way to work, and I’ve wondered about this place.”


He asks why I happened in on such a dangerously cold night, so I tell him about the missing keys.


“Not a good day to lose your keys.”


“No, it isn’t.”


During In the course of the evening, I learn that Jagged Mountain is making a conscious effort to aid our homeless. They are collecting backpacks and other useful items, which is enough to make me want to stop for a beer every time I am in downtown Denver. I also learn that the business opened on exactly the same day that I started my current contract in November of 2013.


After an hour and an especially yummy First Descent, my knight in shining armor arrives with the extra set of car keys. We pay the tab while I bundle up. I steel myself against the cold and walk to the adjacent lot. I unlock the car with my newly acquired set of keys, open the door, and sit in the driver’s seat. I put the key in the ignition and start the car, at which time I notice that there seems to be a frozen film on the windshield. I groan and mumble begrudging under my chilled breath because now I need to scrape ice off the windshield. I get out, run my wool-lined fingers across the window, and breathe a heavy sigh of relief as I discover that the frozen film is a mere skiff of snow for which I only need to turn on the wipers. I then check the wipers to make sure that they are not frozen to the window…car keys!


Lest you lose your faith in humankind…I found a brewpub that gives to the homeless on the same day that a kind human found my car keys in an out-of-the way parking lot. That same kind human pushed the “lock” button until the correct car signaled its ownership and then placed the keys on the windshield so that they would be found by a panicked driver stranded in subzero temperatures in the middle of downtown Denver.

1139 20TH ST 80202 DENVER, CO