The Duncan Banner

Opinion

July 22, 2012

Locked out? It wasn’t my biggest problem

DUNCAN — Editor’s note: Jeff Kaley is taking a break from his weekly column. This is the second part of a three-part column series first published in 2005.

———

In living out the human experience, worse things can happen than locking the keys in your car. At least, that’s what I told myself, while I stood knee-deep in a quagmire of dorkishness.

An otherwise typical day had gone south, when I’d stopped during the lunch hour to gas up at a local convenience store.

In the process, I absent-mindedly locked the T-Bird with the keys still in the ignition.

Efforts to get out of this dilemma were futile, and I was left in a situation no man likes to experience: Being helpless, with only one option — my wife’s got to bail me out.

Please understand, on a scale of 10, Karen is a 9.9. She’s bright, witty, talented, easy on the eye; a great mother, a caring and disciplined person, and my best friend.

However, in the 13 (or is it 14?) years we’ve been together, Karen’s mysteriously concluded I’m capable of being a TOTAL DOOFUS. And like many members of her gender, when Karen deems I’ve committed a DORK ATROCITY, she goes into “Did I Really Marry This Guy?” mode.

Men know what I mean. This mode is expressed in a look, in body language or in vocal modulation that’s one part sarcasm, one part hysterical laughter and one part the tone mom used when you got caught having a mudball fight in your Sunday best.

Anyway, having exhausted hope of getting the T-Bird unlocked and salvaging self-respect, I went inside the store to call Karen to the rescue.

That’s when I discovered my wife’s reaction was the least of my worries.

See, this business apparently had a corporate rule: WE ONLY HIRE WOMEN! Behind the checkout counter were four people of the female persuasion, and I thought: Just slice your wrists now and get it over with!

Maybe I’m over-embellishing, but to the best of my recollection, here’s what happened next.

I said, “Uh, could I use your phone, please?”

Woman No. 1, the senior member of the group, replied: “Got a problem?”

In a mumble I hoped nobody within 45 inches of me could hear, I responded, “My car’s at the pumps and I’ve locked the keys in it. I need to call my wife to bring me her key.”

In a nano-second, all four women perked up and cracked smiles the Cheshire Cat would envy.

Woman No. 1: “Oooh, I thought only women did things like that!”

“No,” I murmured, “men do it, too.”

(Momentary aside: A fellow I recognized was buying something at the counter. He looked over and said, “Locked your keys in the car? Too bad, but we’ve all done it before.” Then he skedaddled.)

While I wished I’d left with that dude, Woman No. 2 mentioned she used to carry a coat hanger in her car but doesn’t anymore, then she SCREAMED toward Woman No. 3, “Do you have a coat hanger? This guy’s locked his keys in the car!”

Smiling, of course, Woman No. 3 said, “No, I don’t have one.” Then she eyeballed me and asked, “Aren’t you that guy who writes for the paper?”

I’m thinking: No, that’s my twin brother from a parallel universe.

Instead, I meekly squeaked, “Yeah.”

Woman No. 1, now chuckling openly, decided I needed some motherly advice. “You should get one of those magnetic boxes and keep an extra key under the car. Doncha have a plastic key you can carry in your wallet? I’ve got one in my purse.”

Resisting the urge to hyperventilate, I calmly retorted, “I used to have one of those boxes, but the last time this happened it was gone when I needed it.”

This prompted a hearty ho-ho-ho from all the females, and I tried to direct the conversation back to the point. “Can I use the phone?”

Grinning from earbob to earbob, Woman No. 4 pointed to a phone at the edge of the counter and cackled, “Sure. Use that one.”

Shuffling in that direction, I asked, “Do you have a phone book?”

That question pushed Woman No. 2’s mirth button and she coyly inquired, “Don’t you know the number?”

Almost in a whisper, I said, “My wife’s at a Lions Club meeting at the country club, so I’ve got to call there.”

Delighted by imagining the conversation to come, Woman No. 1 cooed, “Oooh, really? What’s she going to say?”

My ego dragging on the floor, I mumbled, “She’s probably gonna get a big laugh out of this.”

In a groundswell of female unity that would have made Helen Reddy proud, all four women roared, “Yeah! Bet she does!!”

(In the final episode, indignity becomes inspiring — sorta.)

jeff.kaley@duncanbanner.com

580-255-5354, Ext. 172

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Poll

Should the date for The World's Largest Garage Sale be changed from the third weekend in July to sometime in October to take advantage of cooler weather like we had this past weekend?

No. It's better in the summer cause kids are out of school.
Yes. More shoppers would come during nice fall weather.
Either time is fine.

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