It was one of those cold, moon-lit nights. I pulled into the driveway, singing along to whatever song was on the radio, glad to be home from an evening at work.
Hopping up, I did a quick little two-step as I opened the gate, then hurried back to the warmth of my car. As I pulled on the door handle my mind was already ten steps ahead, thinking about what I was going to eat when I got inside, what time I should go to bed, my plans for the next day……. My mind was suddenly jerked back to the present along with the jerk of the door handle as it snapped out of my hand. The door had not opened.
I tried again, pulling on the door handle a little harder each time, hoping it would open. I walked around my car trying each door, but to no avail. My car stayed locked, sitting just outside of its parking place, hot air blasting through the air vents, while I stood on the outside in the cold, wondering how the heck I was going to get back into my car.
I’m no stranger to getting locked out of car. When I was younger I was notorious for locking the keys in my mom’s van. Many a times I remember Dad having to bring the spare keys and save us. But I didn’t have any spare keys, and never had I been locked out at night, in my own driveway, while the car was still running.
I was going to need some help with this.
“Oh Mooooooom,” I called as I stuck my head into the bedroom. She looked up from where she was sitting at the computer. Giving her a big grin that was anything but innocent, I said, “My car has turned against me. I got out to open the gate, and when I went to pull it in all the doors were locked.”
“What? How did it do that?” She asked.
I shrugged, “I don’t know, but it’s sitting in the driveway running and I can’t get in.”
Mom asked a bunch of questions, but just got the same answers. She eventually just shook her head, and I looked over at Dad.
“Oh my bestest father!” I sang, “Will you help me break into my car?”
Dad sighed, put his book down, and rolled out of bed. “Go get a coat hanger,” he said, reaching for his jacket.
He met me outside, and together we stood for a few moments just looking at my car. Then we set to work. Each door was tried, and then tried again. Each window was examined, each lock analyzed.
I walked around with him, but that was mostly to keep myself warm. I’d often shake my head and say something about the absurdity of the situation, and sometimes offer a helpful opinion.
If you’ve never locked yourself out of your car and had to break back in before, you should know the best way to do it is with a coat hanger and something you can use as a wedge, like a screwdriver. First you find a point to place your wedge, the top corner of the door usually works. Next you unwind the coat hanger, but leave a loop or a hook on the end. You’ll want to stick the coat hanger in hook first, through the gap you made with the wedge; then comes the tricky part.
Dad called me from where I stood bouncing from foot to foot.
“Did you find a spot?” I asked as I took the flashlight he handed me.
“Yeah, this will have to do. Now hold that light right…. there.” he moved my hand with the flashlight. I kept it there while he got started feeding the coat hanger into the door. The night was still cold, my car still hummed, I kept up with the light where Dad needed it, and headlights passed by from time to time. I yawned, thinking about how I would have been warm in bed right now, if I hadn’t managed to lock myself out of my car, simply by getting out of it. *Sigh* How do I get myself into situations like this?
The locks on my car were not that easy to catch – being just a rectangle, with a small indent on the sides, sticking out of flimsy vinyl. There wasn’t much hope of hooking onto the lock itself. However, with the loose lining, there was a chance of dipping down far enough into the door itself and snagging the lock by the bottom.
Dad fished the hanger down, brought it back up, and bent it a different way. Then he tried again. I watched several close attempts – holding my breath at each one. I bounced on my toes and tried to keep the light steady and the cold away as I waited.
There wasn’t much else for me to do, so my mind roamed, and I found myself thinking: what if we weren’t able to get into the car? Would we just leave it sitting here all night? Would it just burn through all the gas like that? I tried to stop myself from worrying or thinking about it too much. I was still rather certain we’d be able to get in. I didn’t want to think about what we would do if we couldn’t, because I didn’t want to believe we would fail.
Dad was getting closer and closer, wiggling and bending the hanger to get just the right angle….
The lock popped up. I held my breath as Dad tried the handle, then let it out in a cheer as the door opened. Dad gathered up his things while I climbed in and over the seats unlocking all the doors, just in case. My car was finally pulled into its right place, turned off, and I headed into the warmth of the house…. nearly thirty minutes after I’d gotten home.
From that day onward, whenever I get out of my car- and before closing my door – I check the lock, then check it again, then unlock the next closest door, just in case. And someday, when I remember, I will get a spare key made…. at some point.
It was quite a ridiculous situation, one that has scarred and left me compulsively checking my car locks. I’m just glad I was able to get back in without more drastic measures! Props to Dad for being awesome 🙂