With all the seriousness on my blog lately, I need to include some lightness. What follows is a true story.
The Friday before the end of Passover I had parked my car like I always do near the edge of my town and then I walk to the train station to catch the train to NYC. It was a cool morning so I wore my coat, but by the end of the day it had warmed up considerably, so on the way home, I carried my coat. I took the train back to New Brunswick like I do all the time, and on this day I was lucky to catch a Rutgers bus that would take me near to my car. Rutgers buses are free for anyone to use, so it was a nice ride since it was warm out.
I got off the bus and walked to my car. As you may have guessed, I left the coat on the bus, and in the pocket of my coat were my keys. My house and car keys were on that key chain. Normally, I could just call my wife and she could come with the other key. However, this being close to Shabbat she could not come and this was the only car key I had. I had gotten the car when my grandfather passed away and only one key came with it.
So I left the car and walked home. I decided it was pointless to think about it over the holiday. I called the Rutgers bus dispatch and left a message about it and hoped that on Monday I would find my keys.
Monday came and my coat and keys were nowhere to be found at Rutgers. OK, so I can get a locksmith to open my car and make keys. The problem is that all car keys in America have transponder chips in them and you cannot just cut a key. The keys have to be programmed to your car. For my Ford car, if I had two keys, I could purchase a transponder blank, have it cut at a locksmith and the program it myself. Since your car’s computer does not have a keyboard you program the key (at least in my Ford) by putting one key in and turning to position 3 (the position just before starting the engine). Then you take it out within 5 seconds and put in key 2 and do the same thing. When you take out the 2nd key it is in program mode. Put in the new key and turn to position 3 within 10 seconds and it is programmed. Sounds great, except I have no keys.
I called a locksmith and they will charge $300 for one key and $50 for a 2nd. I call the Ford dealer and they will do it for $189 for two keys, but I have to have it towed to them. Thank God for AAA. So my wife calls AAA and they come within 15 minutes (a minor miracle!) with a flatbed. They cannot use the flatbed because the car needs to be in neutral to get it on the flatbed and we cannot do that without the key! Now mkm told AAA that we have no keys, but they don’t listen. The only thing that can be done is to get a wheel lift tow truck (the old fashioned kind) but that has to pull right in front of the car and there is a car in front of mine.
Mkm cannot stay any longer, so she goes about her day and at 9:30 after my kids are asleep, I go over there. Sure enough the other car is still in front of mine. So I call the police and they look up the license and get a name. The dispatcher said she cannot tell me the name, but she can tell me that on Friday, there was an ambulance call to the address where the car is registered. Great, no one is around to move the car. So she looks up the name in the white pages and find a phone number and tries to call the house. No answer. She gets back to me and says she will have an officer knock on the door to the house. Of course she cannot tell me the house, but when the officer comes, I see where he goes, so now I know which house.
He knocked on the door, and later I found out that there was a high school girl at home and she told the officer that her step-dad would be back in an hour. So I figure I would come back at 11 pm to deal with it.
I get back at 11 and the car is still there. At about 11:15 I notice someone walking up the walk at the house in question. I quickly get out of my car and called to the person. It turns out to be the teenager, who never called her step dad earlier. She had just thought he would be home. So she said she would call and he tolder her he would leave the hospital (where his wife was at the time).
About 15 minutes later, he comes home and walks over. He then tells me that the car battery is dead and that he is trying to give it away to charity. I ask him if he can just let it roll forward as far as possible as we are on a slight hill. He did that and then I called AAA.
AAA came with the wheel lift truck but unfortunately I was very close to the curb. It took the guy quite soem time to get my wheels in the lift. Then he asked me to open the car and release the parking break. How many times did I tell the AAA people that I could not open the car! Anyway, he took this plastic wedge thing and pried open my door a tiny bit at the top. He took a long curved rod and put it through the crack and used it to push the door unlock button. He broke into the car in less than 30 seconds! Unreal.
Anyway, he towed it to the Ford dealer and then the next day I had two new keys for my car.
What an ordeal!