My Keys

1433267487My car and I were having an argument.

It uses an electronic fob instead of a key and every time I pushed the start button, a cryptic message flashed across the dash display.

Key ID Incorrect”

“Says you…” I shouted and pushed the start button again.

Key ID Incorrect”

It adamantly refused to recognize my electronic key-fob, so I took it out of my pocket and dangled it in plain view. “Look, see the fob?” I said, “Now START.”

Key ID Incorrect”

I tried everything. I scolded, I screamed, I invoked the names of ancient and terrible spirits – to no avail. I was stranded.

A mile up the gravel road, a yard light twinkled like a dirty star. Under the light, a big dog awaited. I could tell by his booming voice that he was looking forward to our encounter.

Nothing focuses the mind like a big country dog.

I knew the key-fob battery was good because the dealership changed it when I last had my car serviced – but that got me thinking.  I inspected the little door on the back of the fob and sure enough, I spotted a sliver of light reflecting off one edge.  The battery was not seated correctly.  I adjusted it and hit the start button again.


Moments later, I waved as I sped by the dog – but my adventure with keys had only begun.

I arrived home after dark to discover that the entryway light bulb had burned out.  Now I had to sift through a wad of keys in the dark.  So I stepped into the moonlight and squinted.

I have sixteen keys on my key-chain.

I have a key for my car door – to be used when the fob fails (sound thinking there, Nissan) but it doesn’t start the car.

I have a key for my wife’s pickup (the one she never lets me drive because it is too new and shiny for the likes of me).

I have a key for my shed.

Two keys belong to my bike rack. One locks my bicycle to the rack and because the rack is worth more than my bike, the other locks the rack to the car.

The camping trailer uses four keys. The first locks the door. The second locks the storage compartments. The third locks the camper to the hitch and the fourth, you guessed it, locks the hitch to the vehicle.

I have two keys to houses I no longer own.

I also have four keys that I am clueless about.  I carry them for fear that if I leave them behind, I might only discover what they do when I am out on a dark gravel road, a mile away from a house where a big dog with a booming voice waits for me.

That left one key: the front door key. I slipped it into the lock and turned – but something didn’t feel right.

The door wasn’t locked.  My wife had left it open for me.

Author: Almost Iowa

40 thoughts on “My Keys”

  1. My wife is the one with all the keys, along with various fobs and pocket knives and mini-flashlights and clickers and whathaveyou. I lovingly refer to the great tangle of crap as “the Chains of Jacob Marley.”

  2. .hahahaha… Well, you were lucky this time! No 1. You need a mini torch. No 2. You don’t need to carry along those keys you don’t need any more!

  3. Had a similar discussion with my printer this morning. It doesn’t like the recycled ink cartridges I feed it, but if I push down *really hard* and *jiggle it around* I can usually get it to cooperate. Not this morning. Before heading to BestBuy for a new printer, I tried spritzing an old toothbrush with CD cleaner and dabbed at the microchip interfaces. Eureka! Electronic awesomeness restored.

  4. We have a bowl full of keys tucked away in a drawer, and we’re not sure what any of them actually unlock, or start. But until we figure it out, we’re afraid to get rid of the keys, so there they sit. And will probably be part of our estate some day.

  5. 16 keys says perhaps you were a janitor in a past life? On the plus side, your wife can hear those keys a mile away, like the bells on Santa’s sleigh, and run to unlock the door so you don’t break a wrist lifting all those keys.

    1. Yeah…. well, me and my car have this torrid love-hate relationship where squabbling is an essential element of our love-dance. Kinda remind you of anything else on this blog?

  6. Another great post! I only carry one key – not your four – for which the lock is unknown (I’ve carried it for 7 years and changed residences!!) My car key story goes like this … I opened the sun roof a tad, got out, pressed the ‘lock’ button on my fob. Nothing happened. Pressed it two more times. Nothing. Got in the car. Got out of the car. Pressed it. Nothing. The damn car wouldn’t lock itself. I had to get back in the car. Press button to turn car on. Press button to turn car off. Get out. Press lock button. Car locked.

    Time lost forever: 10 minutes.

    Time lecturing car to behave better: all the way home.

    1. Somewhere out there, a firmware programmer wakes in a pool of sweat, a whirl of sleep-tinged thoughts swirling through her mind.

      “If the sunroof input says ‘partial’ and the lock sensor says…..”

      She struggles to the surface of consciousness and realizes how ridiculous her thoughts were…

      If it wasn’t in the spec, who gives a rip?

      1. And who can decipher those operating illustrations or the bilingual manual? Let’s make it all so complicated and frustrating that the lumbering masses sigh with relief when Google prevails in its quest to override every single human action, thought, impulse.

        The age old question “Are we there yet?” Is taking on a whole new meaning.

  7. My key’s not so hi-tech, but the button got slightly squished in my pocket – very slightly; very very slightly – so I couldn’t unlock my car. No problem though. Surely if I opened the door with the key, the alarm would quit screaming soon – I did use a key! No such luck. I even tried switching on the engine, but still it screamed. The poor dog (not country dog) that I was giving a ride too looked almost as white as his owner. Then I bashed the key-fob against my hand – employing your wise technique – and all was well. Back home I checked “how to stop your car alarm.” It seems you have to leave the key in while the car screams at you for a certain number of seconds, then remove it, then repeat. I will never remember, but I’ll also never forget to check if the button’s got squished.

  8. Great post! My husband’s key ring also has at least sixteen keys – probably more like two dozen. I’m sure half of them have no use any more. I have two keys on mine. Is this a universal couples thing?

  9. I seriously do not have a key to my name anymore now that you bring the subject up. There seems to be a button or fob or code or magnetic card strip for everything now. I think of those plastic baby keys (must have wishing I become a gramma soon on the brain LOL!) and wonder if they make them anymore for babies or if they make rings of fobs and cards?

    1. OMG!! To dangle a ring of magnetic cards in front of a baby would be hilarious and entirely inappropriate. As it is, kids know more about them than we do.

    2. They do have baby fobs, cards and cell phones. It’s kinda freaky watching them mimic us oldies! Our granddaughter used to walk around the tv room chatting on her fake phone – at 3 years old!!

    1. Just so everyone knows, a EMP is an ElectroMagnetic Pulse. It results when an air-burst nuclear weapon fries all the electronic over a wide area. It is not something you want to expose your smart phone to.

  10. My mother had an old, white jar — probably a Pond’s cold cream jar — that was filled with keys of all sorts. There were luggage keys, skeleton keys, who-knows-what keys. It was a lifetime of keys. She wouldn’t get rid of them for anything, since she was sure some day she’d find something that needed one of those keys. Eventually, I sent the whole bunch to a blogger in Michigan, who uses them for craft projects.

    I only have three keys now: house, car, and mailbox. I figure if I ever find the key to the secret of life, I’ll have room to add it.

    1. I heard an interesting, yet heartbreaking story, perhaps on NPR. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, many of them had little or no notice. They simply locked their houses and fled. Many of them kept the keys as proof of ownership and passed them down to their children, who passed them on – for generations. Some families still carry them.

  11. I’m just old enough to remember that, as a kid, a few people still had older cars that started by stepping on a round protrusion on the car’s floorboard. Progress. Wait until some foreign power (there are so many now) pops an EMT overhead, we’ll be wishing for buggy whips again. Honey, can you Google “Livery Stables” when the internet comes back on?

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