Never Leave Your Keys in a Two-Door Lumina

Tiffany, the girl in service department of our local dealership, called me last Wednesday afternoon.  I could hear the bad news in her voice before she told me.  The technician had been working on my husband’s car all afternoon.  He still couldn’t get the driver’s side door open and would have to take out the seats and part of the interior.  She would call me tomorrow when she knew more.  I knew this was going to be a bitch.  An expensive one.

It all started seven years ago on the way to the airport to catch a 6 a.m. flight.   We were running late, freaking out a little.  My husband rushed to the bathroom for one last tinkle.  The car keys slid out of his pocket and into the bowl during the flush.  On a good day it would take two flushes to get paper to go down, but that day, the keys, the remote locking device and a small flashlight on the ring went right down with no problem.   Thankfully we had another set & one more remote lock operator.  The day was saved and we made our flight.

It all blew up in our faces this last April Fool’s Day during the perfect storm of door lock hell.

My husband called me from a friend’s house.  “I’ve locked the keys in the car.  Can you come help me?”

I was half way there before it dawned on me.  The driver’s door handle had been inoperable for a while now.  We’d put off fixing it because the passenger side worked just fine, as long as it wasn’t locked.  The cylinder had stopped working a couple of years before when it fell out as we were replacing the handle.  Where was the one and only remote?  Dangling out of the ignition.

I drove on, hoping that somehow, he would have managed to finesse the door open by the time I got there.

The last time he’d locked his keys in the car, it was a cold snowy morning.  He’d started the car in the driveway to warm up.  By the time he’d gone to get in, the warming car and the falling snow had caused the door to freeze shut.  When he pulled the handle, it broke off.  There we were, locked out of a running car.

You see, certain GM vehicles made in the ’90s have a pull down door handle located beside the window.  Very cool-looking horrible idea.   Anytime you have freezing precipitation, the door will stick and the handle will bend, just a little, but eventually, it will either stop working or break off completely.  At this point we had replaced the driver’s side twice and the passenger side once.

“I don’t have time for this!”  he declared, took my car and left me standing in the snow in my coat and nightgown with no freaking idea what to do.  It’s his stock response.  He said the same thing the morning the dog and I got sprayed by a skunk, right after he shouted “My eyes are burning!”

The police were sympathetic but wouldn’t help since there wasn’t a child locked in there.  How I wished there had been.  I ended up spending $100.00 to get a locksmith to come give me a very expensive lesson in breaking and entering.

So, this time I arrived at the friend’s house to find everyone inside trading stories and having a good time.  My husband had obviously forgotten about the bad lock cylinder.  I tried to get the door open to no avail, had to go announce my presence and clue my husband in as to just what he had done.  That’s when the cussing started, mostly on my part.

The good ‘ole boys sure had themselves a laugh, but one of them a shade tree mechanic himself, made a valiant effort to reach the actuator rod with a pair of needle nose pliers.  That just made it worse.  The other ‘ole boy couldn’t come up with enough snide cracks or stop laughing at them.

“Yeah, yeah, everyone loves a smartass,”  I told him.  He started looking for tools that might help.

I told them to leave it be; I’d be right back and get it open.  Of course, they didn’t believe a woman could fix something they couldn’t and continued trying to force the latch.

Thank God I work in a lumberyard.  My coworker made me a long wooden wedge with a chop saw.  I showed my husband just where to hammer it between the door and the frame and popped the lock from the inside with a curtain rod.  Unfortunately, the ‘ole boys had managed to completely trash the latch so that when my husband replaced the handle and closed the door, it wouldn’t open again.

The day after Tiffany’s first call, the door was open, but the latch was a discontinued part.  The only other one they could find was in a salvage yard in Bumfuck Egypt.  It took several more days to get the part pulled and transported.  Eight days and $400.00 later, ($386.00 in labor) the doors work and the lock cylinder has been re-keyed.

My husband says he’ll never ever leave his keys in a vehicle again.

I have to say I’m so incredibly grateful for 14 years of wonderful people and amazing service at that dealership.  Thank you all.  I’ll never go anywhere else.  Infact, I’ll be going back tomorrow, because today, the battery is dead.

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~ by loretta8 on April 14, 2011.

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