Theres no way I can tell this story without revealing my ignorance. So, I will just plunge in and hope your memory is as short as mine and that youll soon forget the whole thing.
Last Friday afternoon shortly before 3:00 p.m., I left home to pick up my wife, Mamie, from the Adult Day Center. Id only gone a couple of blocks when I noticed a little red light glowing on the cars instrument panel.
It was alerting me that the rear door was ajar. By rear door I mean what I usually call the trunk door, although this car is a station wagon and doesnt have a trunk.
I pulled over and stopped. I left the motor running, but I shifted into park and set the parking brake. As I got out I also closed my door behind me, so no passing vehicle could crash into it. Then I went around back. I reclosed the rear door and instantly heard all of the doors on the car lock themselves.
Suddenly the vacant car was tightly locked with its motor running and its key in the ignition. Dangling from that key were all my other keys. Id been vaguely aware that this car had some kind of automatic door-locking feature, but Id never used it or even read about it in the owners manual.
Being automatically locked out of our car reminded of the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It featured an H.A.L. 9000 computer, which ran a spaceship carrying two astronauts to Jupiter. The computer had a humanlike personality and chatted with the astronauts, who called it Hal.
But Hal became too human. He was jealously suspicious of the astronauts. He tricked them into going outside the spaceship and then locked them out. One died. The other managed to get back in and dismantle Hal.
But unlike those astronauts, I had an easy solution my AAA card. And I would have immediately called AAA for help if I didnt have another problem. Id forgotten my cell phone. It was back in my locked house.
So I rang the doorbell of a nearby house. A young couple with a charming toddler invited me in. They let me use one of their smarter-than-me phones. The AAA operator didnt laugh when I explained my problem. She promised to send help quickly.
I then sat on the edge of a planter next to the sidewalk, listening to my cars engine idle. Before long, the AAA man arrived. It took me more time to sign the AAA form than he spent opening one of my car doors.
I will never again get out any car without my keys in my hand or my pocket, and I will henceforth call our car Hal.
Phil Dirkx has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column is published weekly. Reach him at 238-2372 or firstname.lastname@example.org.