I was sitting on the hood of my Jeep outside the grocery store where it had spent the night with the keys locked inside.
The cops had come yesterday and, after several efforts,
failed to pop the car locks. Meanwhile, I tore up the house looking for
my spare key, which may actually be in the glove compartment of the
car. I checked on a locksmith, but I didn't want to pay $140 for
an after hours guy to come last night.
Instead I called in the morning and
agreed to the locksmith's day rate and waited for a red panel truck
from AAA Lock and Key -- that name is so generic there has to be one in
every town across the country.
I expected some guy with a butt
crack to get out of the truck, rip the bejesus out of the inside of my
door until he unlocked it, and then charge me an arm and a leg for his
Well, up drives the panel truck.
And out jumps the wiry, tan, effervescent and crisply turned out
master car door opener, Elaine, a trained professional at opening
locked car doors without using a key.
I wasn't expecting a woman.
Professional lock picking seems like one of those jobs that a guy
would fall into because they generally have more practice heisting cars
in high school. But Elaine actually went to a special school to
learn her craft. And boy was she crafty.
After about twenty minutes of
trying to make her assortment of curved metal "tools" pull up the lever
that would release the lock, she came up with a completely different
Taking a narrow bend rod, she
wiggled it through the rubber trim around thetriangular side vent
window of the Jeep. Using a second metal rod, also bent, she
worked the two together, using one to press the button that released
the handle holding the window shut and the second rod to turn the handle
itself. The whole process took less than five minutes. Watching through the window on the other side of the car, I was
mesmerized by her skill in working those two metal rods in tandem with
each other. It was like watching a xylophone player holding four sticks. You
can see their hands moving and hear the sound, but you have no idea how
they know what they're doing.
Presto the window was opened.
She reached in and unlocked the door. I was in. I had
never seen anyone perform a feat of manual dexterity quite so well. Man
or woman. I told her I wished I had been able to videotape her efforts.
She was that fast and that good.
That's the good news. The bad news was that locking the keys in the car had just cost me $85.00.
But it was worth the price of admission to watch such a great show of legal breaking and entering.