I’m fine and the other driver is fine. Her car is totaled – my rear bumper needs replaced. Since she admitted fault and her insurance company accepted full responsibility, all I had to do was drive my car into the obligatory auto-body shop.
So, I took an hour or so before work and drove in. The estimator said they’d need my car for three days, the car rental agency had an office on site, and with insurance approval, I was thrilled everything was working out so well, until they handed me a key ring without any keys on it.
In my hand, was something similar to my remote, a little narrower and longer, but it had the usual four button icons: an open lock, a closed lock, an open trunk button, and the last button which makes the horn honk. I like pressing the honk-the-horn button, it reminds me that the keys are in my hand and, in a pinch, helps me find my car.
As the rental agency rep, slipped me into what looked like a brand new vehicle, I told him there wasn’t any key on the ring, and he said the car had keyless ignition. “Huh?” was my erudite reply. Pointing to a red button about the size of a quarter, that said Start and Stop, he said, “Just put your foot on the brake and push that button.” I did and it did. Wow – new tech. Yes, I know, but to me, a lot of stuff seems to be new tech recently.
Handing me the car’s quick reference guide, he said the most important thing to remember, was that since there wasn’t a key, the remote had to be with me at all times, he repeated, at all times – then he was off to help the next customer. The car was running, and still in Park, so I decided to take a few minutes and read the guide. With my foot on the brake, I pushed that big red button again, and whew, the car turned off – quick and easy. I can do this.
Aside from the red button, everything else seemed familiar. Although, at the top of every right hand page of that guide, was the warning, “The remote must be on your person when locking or unlocking the doors.” Because, as far as I could discover, there’s a little computer chip in that keyless remote gizmo, that aside from controlling the doors, has to be near the red button for ignition to occur.
Now, as I’m constantly laying things down and not finding them again for days, this gave me goose-flesh. I’ve never locked myself out of a car but I always carry an extra set of keys in my bag, just in case. But, with no key, how do you open this car if it’s accidently locked? I find that answer on the rental agreement – I incur all locksmith costs if I lock myself out of the rental car. I wonder if the other driver can take care of that – after all…
Well – it’s now or never, so with my foot on the brake, I press the red button, it starts right up again, and I’m confidently on my way back to the office. I can handle this.
I get to work less then an hour later, even picking up a drive through lunch, park, and start to take the key out of the ignition, but it’s not there, there’s nothing brushing my knee. Where is the key – no, not the key, that four button, no-key-doohickey?
Wait – deep breath – lunch – took out my wallet – purse – search – that thingy fell to the bottom of my bag. Well – where am I supposed to put it, if it’s not hanging out of the ignition?
I can’t get to the pockets in my slacks, ‘cause the safety-belt restrains them too. I’d probably forget it if I put it in the drink holder. On the passenger seat, it might slip between the seat and back cushion – what then? My real key ring is crammed full with my real remote and real car keys, my real house and office keys, along with all those hole-punched store discount cards.
Speaking of remotes – why don’t they make house key remotes, you know, for when you have groceries, packages, and the dog struggling to go through your legs to get into the house first?
I’ve only owned five cars in my life, on average for about 7 years each. I’ve never cranked a Model T, but not cranking, twisting, or turning anything really threw me for a loop! I thought I could do change – change is good – right?
When I got the call to come pick up my car on the third day, I was enormously relieved and to my litany of prayers, quickly added, “Please God, don’t let keyless ignition become the industry standard.”