Saturday, March 26, 2005

Why NOT To Lose Your Car Keys

Yesterday I thought I was a real man of leisure....I skipped out on work at noon and headed up to Snowbowl (our local ski hill 20 minutes from town) with two of my doctor buddies (who both take Fridays off) for an afternoon of snowboarding. We were all in great spirits and kept throwing quotes out like, "boy, it's really winter up here" as we drove up the mountain on perfectly clear dirt roads that normally would still be under plenty of snow. "Man, I'm glad I layered" and other such sarcastic comments abound...but it has snowed up in the mountains off and on all week so we thought it would be fun to slide down the mountain on a flatboard.

And we had a grand time....the snow up top was actually pretty damn nice, and these guys are both much more advanced than I am so it was a hard day of fun and learning for me....we'd do one groomer run and then one tree run; the first tree run was actually just my style, nice wide open areas to turn in and great powder. As the day progressed we kept getting into tighter and tighter tree lines....mentally I shut down on a few of them and had to sort of 'slide' down and out of the trees. Once or twice I bit it pretty hard, either hitting a tree or falling into a tree well (the latter can be very dangerous, but we stayed close to the inbounds and to each other). We had an awesome time and ended the day taking a long groomer run that unfortunately was pretty much all hard-packed ice of the bone jarring variety.

We decided to have one slice of pizza and a bloody Mary each, both things being Snowbowl specialties. We spent about 45 minutes chewing the fat on the sun-drenched deck of The Last Run Inn, snowbowl's quaint little restaurant/bar and then headed down the mountain to the dirt parking lot near town where people all park who are car pooling or hitching up to Snowbowl. The lot is day parking only. I guess it was about 5:00 PM when we got down there and started unloading from Colin's car. I reached into my pocket for my keys and they weren't there....the pocket was unzipped. Panic seized me as I began searching all my pockets....no keys. We searched Colin's car....no keys. I re-traced my steps and thought maybe they fell out of my pocket when I was getting my wallet. So my other friend, John said, "no worries, do you have a spare set at home and a way to get into your house"? Why yes, I do keep a hidden key and I've got a spare set. John offered to drive me to my house and take me back so we set off in renewed calm, eating lemon poppyseed bread and reliving the fun of the day. We got to my house, I opened the door and went to my key drawer...no spare keys inside. We spent the next half hour looking before John realized he had to get home to his wife and two kids...he again said, "why don't you come with me, take my truck and after you find your spares you can come and get me and we'll take care of everything...no worries". So we drove the 20 minutes back to his house and he gave me his truck.

By now I'd already missed Ultimate Frisbee pick-up, where I was supposed to distribute rosters for the league which starts next Wednesday. I drove back home and spent the next two hours tearing my house apart looking for the spare keys...nowhere to be found. I recalled giving them to my brother when he visited last fall, so I called him hoping for a clue...none was to be had. Finally, at about 8:30 PM, I called AAA and explained my predicament: No problem, was AAA's response...we can call a locksmith and have him meet you at your car, get you in and make you a new key...And because you are a Plus member, we'll pay for the first $100.00 in expenses. Awesome, thought I. So I drove back up to the dirt lot and waited...listening to the games on a some seriously bad AM reception. By 9:30 I began to get worried so I went to call AAA back...cell phone battery dead. So I drove to the nearby gas station and called the toll free number..."Oh, didn't anyone call you back? The locksmith can't come now,,,they can't come until tomorrow morning" Uh, no...the only call I got before my cell went dead was a confirmation call..what am I supposed to do now? This is a day parking lot only! They will tow my car and it is a AWD car so they will probably damage it when they do. PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE. "Can you hold on Mr. O'Connor"? (I get nervous when people call me Mr.). Well. the only option is if you find someone on your own, we'll reimburse you $100.00 of the cost.
Enter Missoula Security and Locksmith...a small Mom & Pop operation I found who got to the lot at 10:50, 10 minutes after I pleaded my case.
Peter, the Pop of the company, has been opening up cars and homes for 16 years. He was a salty dog who looked like he just got out of bed. My owner's manual didn't have the key code inside so Peter had to do a series of maneuvers to get a key to work...but when he unlocked the door the alarm went off, because I have remote entry that activates an alarm and will not allow the ignition to work. So it took him about 45 minutes to get a key made and another half hour to get the car to start....It cost me $150.00. peter told me the AAA certified outfit in town is notorious for turning down jobs but not usually late Friday night jobs, which allow them to exceed their AAA approved charges...he said it would have cost me about $300.00 to use them.
So now everytime I lock the car, when I unlock it the alarm goes off and I have a series of tricks to use to get past the alarm. I'll be heading to the local subaru dealer this AM to try and deal with that.

The silver lining is I saved $150.00 by getting screwed by AAA...the cloud is I wasted an entire evening and probably the better part of today because I am an idiot and lost my keys.

Just thought I'd share
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