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home : opinion : opinion December 3, 2022

9/6/2022 12:01:00 AM
Guest Column
When Murphy's Law Worked Overtime

Tammy Wilson
Guest Columnist

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Sam’s Club with my son to do some shopping. Everything went swimmingly until we returned to the parking lot. I reached for my key in my purse, then my pockets. No key.

A couple of men passed by, noticing my frenzied look.

“The police can get you in,” one of them said.

Do police still do emergency locksmithing? I thought I’d read someplace that they no longer do that, given how newer vehicles are so electronic.

My Chevrolet Equinox is designed to prevent lockouts. If the key fob is left inside the vehicle, it will toot the horn twice. Annoying, but helpful—unless the battery runs down. In the three years, I’ve owned the vehicle, my dashboard messenger had never told me my fob battery was weak because it wasn’t—until now.

So, there we were in the Sam’s parking lot, less than an hour before closing, phoneless and keyless, with a full buggy of stuff.

I went back into the store to check with Customer Service. No, my key hadn’t been turned in. I walked up and down every aisle we’d passed (there were several.) I rescanned the parking spaces between my vehicle and the store entrance.


I tried to remember a phone number of friends and family who might be home and willing to come and give us a lift. Then it occurred to me: these numbers are stored on my phone, not my brain. That’s what technology has done to us.

Exasperated, I asked store personnel to call us a cab, but no cab company would answer. And then—eureka!—I thought I of my neighbors’ landline. I’d learned the number from the days before Smartphones, before numbers were stored as “Mom” or “Home” or “Work.” Before there was any memory work involving numbers.

I held my breath, hoping the neighbors a) were home and b) wouldn’t assume I was a telemarketer. Luckily, they picked up the call and were able to come get us.

Later, when my son and I returned to Sam’s in his vehicle, I discovered my original key fob that had fallen into the cup holder of the center console. Freaky, I know.

As for law enforcement unlocking vehicles, I looked this up. An officer might come to open a vehicle, but it would have to be an absolute emergency, such as a baby stuck inside a car or a pet trapped in a hot vehicle. As for a keyless vehicle, the rescue would likely involve breaking a window.

Would an officer be willing to do that for me and my groceries? Doubtful.

A better idea would be to call a car lockout service. Better yet, not to lose your phone and your key at the same time.

--- Tammy Wilson is a writer who lives near Newton. Her latest book is Going Plaid in a Solid Gray World: Collected Columns, published by Red Hawk Publications. She will present a public reading at 6:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 8 at Patrick Beaver Public Library, Hickory.

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