Life Lessons

The Beginner’s Guide to Locking Your Keys in Your Vehicle

With practice, you too can achieve greatness

Example one: I’m near Columbus, Mississippi auditioning for a preaching job.

I stop at a gas station just a mile or so from the church building where the audition was to occur.

You may be surprised to hear the word “audition” associated with interviewing for a preaching job. My experience is that folks are interested in hiring you only if you sound good not if, you know, you are concerned for ministering to people. But I digress.

It was winter and cold, even for Mississippi. I got out of the truck, spun around, and the door shut. This was not part of the audition.

A feeling somewhere down in the far reaches of my stomach told me that the keys that would have normally accompanied my hand on the way from the ignition to my pocket lay, not in my then empty hands, but still in the ignition.

I had locked the keys in my truck. The engine was still running.

I started doing what any sane person about to audition for a preaching job, cursing at the top of my lungs.

OK, I didn’t.

Tony Campolo may be able to get away with colorful language to make a point but I wasn’t trying to make a point.

My keys were still in the ignition laughing at me.

I was supposed to be at the church building in 30 minutes or so and my only mode of motorized transportation was slowly burning the gas out of the tank.

Here’s the thing that fueled my anger: Church people came and went from the store. I knew they were church people because they were dressed up on a Sunday morning in a little community. They drove up, parked, looked at me, shook their head, and muttered that I, like Job, must have committed some terrible sin and continued on their way.

A little old lady, maybe 80, asked if I had locked my keys in the truck.

I punched her.

No, I didn’t. It was actually a gentle nudge and I don’t see why she had to make such a big deal about falling. It was only a sprain.

I explained the situation to one person. And through the help of a delicate instrument specially made for such situations, I used my skill to free the keys from the ignition.

We made it to the audition.

But didn’t get the gig.

Fast-forward a few years: I was driving to Fort Smith, Arkansas for a court hearing (somewhere along the way I stumbled through law school).

I noticed a discarded box of electronics lying on side of Interstate 40. The box had fallen from a satellite TV service truck or from a truck of thieves, not to be redundant there.

Either way, I decided that the box of stuff was fair game.

I stopped with plenty of room between westbound traffic and me. I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of turning off the ignition and putting the keys in my pocket.

Who would?

That was way too much work to ask of a busy attorney — on a busy interstate — with big trucks and all.

I was only going to be a minute gathering the “lost and abandoned” property from the highway.

This happened in a split second: As I exited my truck, my right elbow caught the door as gale-force winds from a passing semi-truck pushed against the door.

My elbow brushed the lock, ever so slightly.

The door shut.

Confidently — like it meant to.

My truck had a healthy self-image.

Standing outside, I saw that the engine was running, and the keys were, of course, locked inside — laughing at me.

I was not happy.

I tried not to look as stupid as my actions clearly indicated I was. So I walked towards the discarded electronics and threw the box into the truck bed, feigning interest in the satellite instruments that I would never use and only recently gave away to a Salvation Army Thrift Store.

I walked up and down the interstate looking down for something that might help me open the door.

There’s a lot of stuff alongside an interstate highway.

Praying that God would be merciful and look beyond my stupidity and greed, I asked for a way inside the truck.

Several times.

No one seemed the least interested in why I was walking back and forth on the side of the interstate while a perfectly good truck sat idling nearby.

I had tried many times to pull the door open because there was a slight space to work with as the door had not shut completely.

I had even taken a large rock and began trying to smash the passenger window.

Did you know that auto glass is tough?

That didn’t work.

Eventually, I looked down beside the driver’s door and saw the thin metal remains of a windshield wiper.

Turns out, they’re perfect for sliding into the small space and pulling up the lock.

Rarely had I been so happy to sit behind the steering wheel and drive away.

Only wasted a few hours.

Satire, humor, Russia, and life lessons. I’m a dad, husband, and writer.

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