Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Locked Out

Two weeks ago I locked my keys in the trunk of my car. All the car doors were locked. It's an easy enough mistake to make. I think. It was the end of the day (Friday, no less) and I was headed home. I opened my trunk with the remote to dump the myriad of things (book bag, lunch bag, coats, gloves, scarfs and who knows what else) that I carry each day into the trunk. Everything went in the trunk. This is what I do everyday; I toss everything in the trunk before grabbing my purse and keys.

I slammed the trunk shut. As soon as my hand left the cold metal, I knew what I had done. I stood there, toes frozen, a spot burning bright in my stomach telling me I wouldn't be home anytime soon.

My locked car. At this point the autostart was still on and I could hear the radio. I had remotely started the car before locking the keys in the trunk. Fortunately autostart is on a timer and goes off after 20 minutes. 
I trundled back into the school. Fortunately my school keys are on a separate key ring from my car keys and I was able to reenter the school. I called Triple A and they informed me that my membership had expired in July. The spot in my stomach grew brighter. I as assured that my membership could easily be reinstated, they would just need a credit card number. Membership reactivated I was transferred to the road assistance hotline. I was put on hold. Dave finally answered but for some reason at this point my phone stopped working and I could hear Dave but he couldn't hear me. I hung up. Dave called back, same problem, Dave hung up.

I called Triple A back from a land line.  They'd send out a locksmith. It'd be a 45 minute wait. This was after a long conversation of me trying to explain to someone in Oklahoma exactly where I was located. Here's a sample of my end of the conversation:

- Yes, the closest city is Fairbanks but that's not where I am.
- *I* am on Eielson Air Force Base.
- No, it's not a town, it's an Air Force Base. Here's the address of the school where my car is.
- No, the school is not in Fairbanks. The closest town is North Pole.
- No, I'm not in North Pole.
- I can't give you a city because I'm not in a town.
- I.  Am.  Inside.  The.  Air.  Force.  Base.
- No I cannot meet the locksmith at the main gate -- I don't have keys to my car.

I asked Dave if I could put him on hold for a moment. Oh course, he said. I pushed the mute button, set the phone receiver down and beat my head with my fist. My stomach now was beyond knots. I do believe the lining of my stomach had inched it's way up through the esophageal sphincter and turned itself inside out.

Back to Dave. We finally sorted out my location complete with street address, make and model of car and my call back number. Estimated time arrival of locksmith: 90 minutes. Oh, and could I please call the main gate at the air force base and let them know the locksmith would be arriving. Certainly. If only I knew which of the thousands of numbers to call.

I called the main Eielson number. They transferred for me to the visitor center. I explained the situation and this person suggested I call Security Forces on base to see if they can break into my car. I called and they dispatched someone immediately. Finally. I didn't yet cancel Triple A though, just in case.

So I waited for Security Forces. Oh, and have I mentioned that this night it's dumping snow and there is a wind storm? Wind in Fairbanks (or on Eielson which although we've established is *not* in Fairbanks, has similar weather) is not pleasant. Fairbanks wind gives new meaning to the term "bitterly cold".  Snow in Fairbanks is dry. So dry that I can practically clear by car of snow by sneezing. Thus, when the wind picks up snow it's blown everywhere. This may sound like an overstatement of the obvious but it is different than wind-blown snow in the Sierras. The snow is so fine it's like powdered sugar.

Anyway, as the saying goes, it was a "dark and stormy night" as I awaited my Base Boy. Fortunately I was able to wait inside the school. It wasn't as though I was destitute outside, looking for a moose to kill so that I could climb inside its belly in order to survive the treacherous ordeal. No, I was inside eating cookies. I didn't even have my coat on. Frustrated? Yes. In serious trouble? Hardly. That of course didn't quell my sarcasm when I was texting a friend and was asked if my car doors were unlocked. Huh, how astute. Why didn't I think of that? Oh, the caustic bite that is my friendship. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
View from the school door as I waited for my Base Boy.
Fortunately Security Forces arrived within 15 minutes. I went to open the school door and it wouldn't budge. Base Boy was standing outside, I was standing inside, and none of the doors would open. This was getting better and better. I finally have someone to unlock my car and I'm locked in the school. The front of the school has a bank of six doors. Unbeknownst to me, after a certain time in the afternoon all the doors are locked, even from the inside. Well, all but one door. I found the door that was unlocked but the wind had blown so much snow against the door I couldn't open it, so at first I thought it was locked too. But with a shove here, and a push there, the door opened.

Base Boy got to work while I sat in his truck with the engine running and heater on. Good thing too -- it took him awhile to bust into my car.
Base Boy working hard...

Finally, success! I retrieved my keys and signed some papers using someone else's name.

Homeward bound at last...
Road home
And once home, cocktails. 


  1. What an ordeal. I wonder if you are the talk of the base. Like "oh, god, here she comes again"... Or maybe they are glad to have something to do?
    Is that Base Boy actually glove-less??? Good grief...they grow 'em hardy up there.

  2. Oh I'm sure an alert goes out as soon as I arrive on base! I've been told I provide a lot of amusement.

    Yes, Base Boy was gloveless. Dont be too empathetic It was 20 degrees out -- plenty warm!