I’m a paramedic. It was early in my career when I first witnessed key ring Scotch tape. In the midst of an unusually frantic scene, someone was struggling to secure an IV to a patient’s arm. What I saw next was a relative oasis of zen: A paramedic stood up tall, twisted to one side, reached to her belt, and began reeling out short lengths of Scotch tape. She passed them over and the IV was secured in place.
Still, in my world of inner-city paramedics, a world fueled by cynicism and coffee, carrying around too many pieces of gear on your belt gets you branded “Batman.” It’s considered too flashy, too much playing the hero. And so I resisted the utilitarian call of the tape-accessorized key ring.
Years later, I found myself running late to a friend’s birthday party and needing to wrap a present on the go. With no sticky tape available, I was thinking I might have to use one of my shoelaces as a ribbon. Fortunately, as I was futzing with the present and paper just outside the party location, a colleague pulled up next to me in his car. In a fluid motion he switched off the car engine and lobbed his keys over to me. Key ring Scotch tape, and the day was saved.
That convinced me. In the subsequent four-ish years, engineering simple solutions to minor life problems with Scotch tape has become a small service I can sometimes provide for other people — or, when the situation requires, for myself. It’s a nice thing. And nobody has called me “Batman.”
Key Ring Chronicles is a crowd-sourced project that explores the stories behind objects that people keep on their key rings. It was created and is overseen by Paul Lukas, who has kept a quarter with a hole drilled through it on his own key ring since 1987. Readers are encouraged to participate by sending photos and descriptions here.