When I Locked the Keys in the Car …

Ok – this happened a long, long time ago, but last night a friend was telling me how she locked her keys in the car yesterday … and I said, I have a funny story about doing that and promised her and another friend that I would tell them the story when we had more time – so here goes, Debbie and Ruth.

Some background.

First, I have been writing for a certain publishing company since I was a teenager and they often give me assignments. So, one fall they assigned me an article on vacations. I hadn’t gotten too far, but I had written down – doing something I didn’t usually do, enjoying beautiful weather, being with friends and family.

Second – Ken has been asked to be the speaker at the mens’ retreat at Silver Birch Ranch in Antigo, Wisconsin.

Third – Our kids were married but did not have any of their own kids yet.

Now for the story. We decided that I would drive up to Antigo with Ken, drop him off and would continue on to Rhinelander where my parents lived. Kelli decided she would go with me and Jeff and Cindy decided they would come over from Minneapolis. My parents wouldn’t be home that weekend, but we would stay at their house.

Kelli and I dropped Ken off and right before we left, he handed me his keys and said, “You might as well take these, then I won’t have to keep track of them all weekend.” Ok. No problem.

We continued the rest of the way and Jeff and Cindy showed up. The next morning we headed up to Minocqua to get some fudge. We decided to stop at an antique shop in another nearby town – a place we often stopped. I turned the car off, put the keys in my pocket and got out. A perfect fall day. The parking lot was surrounded by trees rich in their red and yellow leaves and the sun brightly shone down on us which is why I decided to take off my coat, throw it back in the car and shut the door along with my keys.

We went into the antique shop and told the clerk the situation and she said she knew just the man who could help us. He could get into any car. We walked around the parking lot and soon he showed up to help. Well … after an hour of trying everything he could think of including some sophisticated getting-into-car tools, he still couldn’t get the car open. I didn’t know whether to feel sad or happy about that. Sad that he couldn’t get into the car, but happy that my car was fairly secure. Meanwhile, as we were waiting, we chatted and laughed and got caught up with what was happening with Jeff and Cindy living in Minnesota.

Finally the man who-could-get-any-car-opened gave up.

We were stuck. “If only we could get back to the house,” I said to the kids. “I have dad’s keys (fortunately) and then, Cindy, you could drive me back in your truck to get my car.”

But how did we get the 10 miles to my parents? Not a lot of taxis are available in the north woods.

“I’ll drive you,” the man offered. We had no choice. So we all piled into his van and headed back to Rhinelander.

When we got there, I handed him a $20.00, but he didn’t want to take it because “I haven’t done anything.” My response was “You obviously don’t live in Chicago.”

And now we figured out we had another problem. The key to my parents’ house was on my key ring back in the car. But after much manipulation, Jeff climbed into a window, I got Ken’s keys, we drove back and retrieved the car and got the fudge.

Not the end of the story.

I decided to write my vacation story about that day. I was enjoying my family, the weather was beautiful and I was doing something I didn’t usually do. Perfectly fit the parameters I had outlined.

So I did and I sold the story to the publishing company – making $100 on the whole fiasco.

Still not the end of the story.

Winter came and the story was published. The next spring we started getting calls from “up north,” a number we didn’t recognize. At first, we ignored them thinking it was a telemarketer, but one day I picked up.

“Hi,” a man said, “I own the antique shop on Highway 8 in northern Wisconsin. One of my regular customers goes to Arizona in the winter and this past winter, she read a story in a magazine they get at their church and it was written by you about locking your keys out of the car at our antique shop.”

“Yep, that was me,” I said.

“Well, we would like your permission to publish the story in the town newspaper.”

“No problem.” I agreed.

And that’s the end of the story.




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