Thursday, January 29, 2009

There are few things more boring, in my opinion, than listening to somebody complain about how boring their day was. In terms of boring activities, it rates right up there with listening to somebody recount their dreams or read their horoscope; it elicits in this friendly listener the desire to say: "Excuse me? In case you haven't bothered to notice, I'm only interested in myself. Frankly, I don't give a flying fruitcake about your boring day. Or your dreams. Or your horoscope. So please--SPARE ME."

Since I'm not a hypocrite (at least not in front of other people), I'm going to spare my readers the excruciating boredom of having to read about how boring my day was. Instead, I'll relate a fascinating true story of stupidity, negligence, procrastination, and, ultimately, more stupidity.

For about a year Joedy and I have been using my mother Benita's grey Toyota Corolla, which she gave us to facilitate the commute to and from Santa Barbara. Not long after we started using it, one of the keys broke when it fell in the driveway; the metal part--the key itself--was fine, but the plastic ring at the end was broken, and even with creative use of masking tape we were unable to get the key to stay on a key ring.

Benita had told us about another key--a hide-a-key, stuck to the frame of the car in one of those little magnetic pouches. Joedy and I promptly retrieved it and I, as the main user of the Toyota, put that key on my key ring.

About three months ago, that key broke while in the ignition. Luckily--since I was in Santa Barbara--it still worked for starting the car (thus enabling me to drive home), but it couldn't be used to lock and unlock the doors. The broken piece was still stuck deep in the bowels of the ignition, and when Joedy and I dug up the first key, the one with the broken plastic ring, it quickly became clear that it could only be used to lock and unlock the doors.

I was ridiculously, fanatically anal about the two keys, since each could only be used for one specific and highly important purpose, and although it was annoying to have to be hyper-vigilant it seemed easier than calling up a locksmith and having the broken piece removed from the ignition. For that matter, it seemed easier than having a new key made from the key with the broken plastic ring, although I did ask whether it was possible to make a copy of the key with the broken tip (it wasn't possible). Since I was the one using the car most of the time, and I am not as prone to losing very important objects as some people we know, it seemed as if the hyper-vigilant key-watching method could last a long, long time--at least until we decided to spend the couple hundred bucks, or whatever, it would take to fix the car.

Then one day Joedy took the Toyota to work. It was a Saturday, and we still don't know why he decided to take the Toyota, but that's beside the point now--what matters is that upon returning home he left the car door key (the one with the broken plastic ring) in the console between the two front seats, and when I went outside to pick up dog poop I noticed the car doors were unlocked and I locked them. I didn't notice that the key to the door was sitting in the car.

Once it was clear that a metal clothes hanger was not going to solve the problem of the only key to the door being locked in the car, we faced the truth: we'd have to ask Benita if she had another key. The thought of admitting that we'd been driving around using two broken keys, instead of having gotten the car fixed like normal responsible people, caused me a quite a bit of embarrassment, but she didn't make a big deal out of it and she did have another key and we were able to open the car door and--

We couldn't find the key with the broken tip. The key that turned the car on and off. The key I had incredibly fastidiously made sure I never lost, because that would mean the car would be un-startable. The key that somehow, right after someone else used it, mysteriously disappeared. Vanished.

Luckily, we have an old VW bus that some friends living in Utah have asked us to babysit, so one of us was able to drive that to work while we continued putting off fixing the Toyota. Then, however, the VW broke down, and we were forced once again to face reality.

So we went to a hardware store and bought a magnet, one that could lift 150 pounds of raw metal, and some long pointy tools like those used by dentists. Although it seemed like maybe not such a good idea to place such a strong magnet against the ignition in hopes of pulling out the broken piece of key--because who knows, it might pull off the entire steering wheel column--we were caught up in the spirit of ingenuity and thinking-outside-of-the-box and, besides, we didn't want to spend money getting it fixed the normal way--we're cheap, self-reliant folk, by god, and this was proof of it!

When we got home from the hardware store, we discovered that the Toyota keys are in fact not made out of magnetic metal (neither are our forks, apparently). But we're not ones to give up easily, so we headed back out to the car armed with our dental tools and...the vacuum cleaner. The very strong German vacuum cleaner which would maybe, just maybe, if angled the right way, suck that broken piece of key out.

Well, guess what: it didn't. We fiddled around with the dental tools for a while, but it soon became clear that we would have to--horror of horrors!--call a locksmith.

So we did. The locksmith came today and took out the ignition and took out the broken piece of key and made us some new keys.

The saga is over, and now we know that the key to stupidity is not taking care of broken keys.


Noopette said...

absolutely fruit-caking hilarious! made me laugh out loud

uncleremus said...

The Big M says "hey, my dreams are never, ever that funny!!" too bad!!!

uncleremus said...

ahhhh...the KEY to life is the thing you find in a box of fruitcaking crackerjacks!!!!
watch those teeth!!!!!

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