Last night I lost my spare car key. Most people wouldn’t worry too much about this, but I spent half an hour searching around, under, and inside the car. I checked my pockets so many times onlookers must have thought I was molesting myself. I spent all the that time searching in the dark and the cold because that spare car key improves my quality of life.

You see, I don’t start my car like normal people. The module that engages the car’s alarm malfunctioned and the mechanics “wired around it” so the car would start. I use the spare key to open the car door and then I leave it there, because that’s the only way to turn off the car alarm. Although the module doesn’t interfere with starting the car, either it or the door sensors misfire and the car alarm arms itself while I’m driving. That means if I open the door the alarm will go off. So I have a system for getting out of the car:

  1. Put the car in park.
  2. Turn off headlights or air.
  3. Power window roll down.
  4. Turn spare key to disengage alarm.
  5. Open car door.
  6. Power window roll up.
  7. Turn off the car.
  8. Take bags and exit vehicle
  9. Close car door.
  10. Use spare key to lock door.

Sometimes my car gets cute with me and engages the alarm before I can get out. But it hasn’t done that in awhile. There was even a week where the car gave me a gift, and it wouldn’t arm itself while I was driving. I felt that was a very thoughtful gesture.

Do you see the problem without that spare key? I can’t disengage the alarm without rolling down the window, and I can’t roll it back up again without power to the car. Here’s how the new procedure goes:

  1. Put the car in park.
  2. Turn off headlights or air.
  3. Power window roll down.
  4. Turn off the car.
  5. Remove key and place into driver side door
  6. Turn main key to disengage alarm.
  7. Open car door.
  8. Place key back in ignition to gain power
  9. Power window roll up.
  10. Remove key.
  11. Take bags and exit vehicle
  12. Close car door.
  13. Use main to lock door.

I remind passengers that, “once I disengage the alarm, you have to get out of the car as quickly as possible.” “Wait wait,” they exclaim. “I forget how to get out of here!” We run through the checklist like an escape procedure. Their posture shifts from relaxed to alert, anticipating the moment I say “go,” and they can begin the adventure.