Honk if you hate keyless entry

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

If you were peacefully trying to meditate in a courthouse cubicle the other day, I'm sorry.

If you were quietly noshing in the back corner at Almost Home or Chief's the other afternoon, I apologize.

If you were wandering the friendly confines of the courthouse square and almost jumped right out of your skin? Oops.

That incessant beeping, horn honking, alarm blasting? Loudly, rudely interrupting everyone's thoughts, conversations and consciousness enough to make a nun swear like Louis C.K.?

Yep, that's on me. My car. My alarm. My intrusion. My bad.

"Heard your horn stuck the other day," an old acquaintance suggested.

"Actually it was my car alarm," I corrected as any good editor would.

But there's more, so much more to what sounds like a minor inconvenience but became a three-hour event the likes of which hasn't turned a day upside the same way since Gilligan made goo-goo eyes at Mary Ann.

All I wanted to do was go to lunch. A friend was already waiting for me at Wendy's where a couple of tasty salads were calling our names.

Exiting the Banner Graphic office, I pressed the unlock button on my Jeep Commander key fob, just like I have hundreds, if not thousands of times before. Only this time, nothing happened. No telltale "clunk" indicating the door was unlocked. Everything was still locked tight.

So I stuck the key into the door lock. Bad move. Who knew that when car companies give you a key, it's apparently only for the ignition?

When I put the key in the door lock, it set off enough noise to wake Jimmy Hoffa, wherever he may be. It honked and flashed and blinked and drew more attention than I've ever wanted. People craned their necks to see where the noise was coming from. Office workers peeked out downtown windows. People on the street literally stopped in their tracks to stare in disdain.

But I couldn't turn it off. The manual was of no help. Directions on disabling the alarm were only slightly less enlightening than those infernal instructions for swingset assembly. I might as well have been advised to drop my keys in a brown paper sack and twirl it over my head three times.

Eventually -- after about five minutes, although it seemed more like an eternity -- the alarm stopped. Problem was, I was now trapped inside the car. The blinking light on the dash indicated the alarm was still armed.

One false move -- like opening the door to get out or trying to start the ignition -- and I was done for. I know because I tried all those things, immediately reactivating the alarm and resuming the noise and accompanying unwanted attention.

Suddenly I felt compelled to seek forgiveness, running around the car Larry David-like, telling anyone within earshot, "It's not my fault!"

Jill Felling happened to be walking her little white dog, and stopped to commiserate, explaining the same thing had happened to her recently at CVS. I'm thinking, yay, but at least medication is within arm's reach there.

"Have you tried opening the tailgate?" she asked.

I had not since that's not possible from inside the car. She popped the hatch but the alarm prevailed.

She read the manual, in vain as well. I pushed the buttons on the keypad, changing the order, hitting the buttons all at once, even pushing the panic alarm (what the heck at this point).

It was like using someone else's TV remote. Push and pray. Nearby garage doors had to be going up and down mysteriously on their own.

Reasoning that the battery in the key fob had probably died, I was at the mercy of others, lest I open the door and set off the alarm again. Assistant Editor Jared took my garage door opener and headed to my house to retrieve my spare keys.

In the interim I googled instructions on disabling the alarm. They didn't help. Called the car dealer, and they told me to contact Jeff at Crawfordsville. He told me to put the key in the tailgate, turn it to the right and hold it for five seconds. Of course, leaving the driver's seat set off the alarm again, and when I got to the rear of the Jeep, I realized there is no key entry to the tailgate.

Jared arrived with the spare keys, but as soon as I saw them I knew that battery had long since died itself back in my Dixie Chopper days. So he volunteered to go buy a new battery.

Of course, nobody had one of those teeny-weeny screwdrivers to properly dismantle the key fob and insert the new battery. We did our best but it wasn't totally tight.

After another round of honking and flashing, reinforcements came and Daryl Taylor unhooked the car battery as I pulled the fuse to the horn. Once we hooked the battery back up, sounds of silence prevailed.

Regardless I carefully drove up 231 to Don's Garage, where Don himself offered, "We have Chryslers, this has happened to my wife before."

He deftly unscrewed the key fob, reinserted the battery, and screwed it down tight. No honking, no beeping, no apologies necessary.

Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Right tool. Right guy. Right on ...

Now, about this convertible I have with its top stuck down ...

And just in case that goes awry ... I'm sorry.