Because bad days are made better by turning them into funny stories


So funny story.

Who knew that these ridiculous-looking pudgy ski gloves I’ve been wearing everywhere to brave the ongoing D.C.-freeze can also inadvertently lock my car with the keys in it?

Who knew?

On the way to teach one of my exercise classes this morning, I swung by the church parking lot where I pick up a weekly delivery of milk when the Mount Vernon farmers market is out of season. I left the car running and stepped out to grab my empty milk jugs from the passenger’s side door, closing the door behind me. The passenger door was locked. I went back to the driver’s side door to unlock it. It, too, was locked. Wait? How did that happen?

I looked in the window; the keys were still in the ignition. My phone was in the cup holder, my purse on the seat. Standing on a couple inches of snow that had gathered overnight in 16-degree weather, it suddenly looked very warm inside my car.

I looked down at my bulky gloves and cursed the fact that we bought a base model of the 2012 Nissan Rogue that features the toggle-type door locks. Toggle-types can apparently be toggled into the lock position by big fat ugly gloves while a clumsy person is exiting.

Farmer David and his wife quickly came to my aid, and we all tried the five handles that, in a perfect world, would have miraculously opened despite the fact that they suddenly would not. The class I was supposed to teach started in less than 10 minutes. 

The good news is that farmers who work the farmers markets are more likely than the average farmer to own an iPhone. This couple uses them to run credit card purchases at the market and at this winter pick-up spot. Farmer David offered me his and I called the gym first. They’d have to cancel my class. Then I looked up the nearest locksmith.

I vaguely remembered that I meant to update our insurance plan to include roadside assistance the last time I did this, which was — ironically — at a creamery, picking up milk and ice cream from another Virginia farmer.

That time, I was headed to my car after reporting a story on Moo-Thru, the famed ice cream and grilled cheese drive-thru in Remington, Va. I couldn’t seem to find the keys to the Jetta I was driving at the time, so I peeked in the window. They were in the ignition, though the car was turned off. Jettas have this great way of locking themselves if you turn your back for a couple of seconds, let alone abandon them for a couple of hours.

It was a cool summer day and I was holding a cup of apple ice cream, so that occasion had some advantages over the frigid circumstances of today. But both brought to light the kindness and patience of a couple of dairy farmers. (Although, what I wouldn’t give to only pay $50 for a locksmith in rural Virginia… a service that cost more than three times as much in Alexandria, but we’ll get to that.)

Based on my past experience, I knew a locksmith this morning would take at least 30 minutes to arrive and amount to a really expensive milk run. The kind farmers offered me a spot in their truck while they finished out the morning pick-ups, running back and forth in the cold to fill the cash box or run credit cards. I used Farmer David’s phone to call a locksmith and waited on standby for him to signal his arrival.  

9:40… 9:45… 10:00… it looked like I was about to outstay my welcome in their warm little pickup truck and they’d have to head back to their Maryland farm soon. They handed me my two jugs of milk — one whole, one chocolate whole — eggs, and a sample of a new drinkable yogurt they’re trying out, and said I could pay next week. I headed inside the church where the nice secretary said I could wait and offered their phone line for the locksmith to call.

I’ve read a few articles and even heard a sermon recently about how terrible we Americans are at waiting, especially — heaven forbid — without our smartphones. I waited for another 25 minutes or so with no electronics, only that lovely sample of drinkable yogurt to pass the time. I took the opportunity to count my blessings.

I was, after all, sitting in a warm church after sitting in a warm truck for a half hour, two factors that would have been different had this occurred any number of other places. I did have a drinkable yogurt to tide me over, and a bathroom at my disposal. I learned from the secretary that schools had been delayed this morning, which meant canceling my class probably affected only a few people whose schedules weren’t thrown off already. I was thankful I had worn my fuzzy boots and could still feel my toes. (I wasn’t really thankful for the gloves at that moment.)

And I was even thankful for a little mid-week silence. Just me and my thoughts to pass the time — how often does that really happen?

The locksmith arrived just before 10:30 and took only a few minutes to finagle his way into the car. I fetched my wallet and found out the damage… I was not very thankful for how much he said it would cost. $170? $170! What is that, like a $2,000-an-hour rate for his 5 minutes of unlocking?

I griped a bit and paid the man, who assured me my car insurance could likely reimburse me for the cost. I was cold. I might have paid that much just to not be cold at the moment, and I had little other choice.

I later called my insurance company only to find out that, if we had paid $1 more per month, we would have the roadside assistance that would reimburse me for the locksmith. We, however, did not have it. Now, we do have it. Let’s not talk about hindsight being 20/20.

Moral of the story?

  • Get roadside assistance before you need it.
  • Buy milk from very nice farmers with iPhones.
  • And don’t wear ski gloves while running errands. They could lock you out of your car.

I hope you’re having a splendid day and staying warm. Truly, there are far worse things that could happen and I’m thankful every day that they don’t. And, if they do, writing about it makes me feel a bit better.


4 Responses to “Because bad days are made better by turning them into funny stories”
  1. Laura Rose says:

    You make me happy.

  2. Ugg. Of course in reading this, I now want to buy some whole milk . . . and whole chocolate milk . . .

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] not to do something stupid like lock myself out of the car while it was running with my baby in it (which I did when I was pregnant), and succeeded. So far, so […]

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