Monday, October 1, 2007

Locksmith? Nah, Got It Thanks...

Last week I was driving a rented Nissan Frontier Crew Cab. Not a bad rental car, especially while tearing up on a construction site. Friday morning, as I am loading my gear to head to the airport for my journey home, I found a new wild side to my self I never knew existed.

I placed my suitcase in the backseat, backpack in the passenger seat, inserted the key in the ignition and started the truck. Not realizing the auto door locks engaged with the ignition (rather than engaging while shifting out of PARK like most normal cars in the US), I grabbed some trash from the console, got out of the truck, shut the door, and walked to a nearby trash bin. My stomach churned uncontrollably when I realized the door handle was not handling the door! In sheer terror, I darted to each of the four doors trying desperately to open each as if some magical flaw on the assembly line would have allowed just one door to remain unlocked. I stopped, assessed the situation. Looked at my watch, it was 7:15am. I had a 30 min drive to the airport, a 15 min shuttle ride from the rental car facility, a minimum 20 min wait in security, and 20 min prior to departure boarding time to stake my claim in group A. My flight was at 9:20am. Any other day, this scenario would have been a cake walk. Today it was hell. My first thought: BREAK THE WINDOW! No way, I couldn't do that...then common sense took back the wheel.

Luckily I had my phone in my pocket, I called National and their road-side assistance number (now strategically stored in my phone). After about 10 minutes on the phone, the agent finally reached a local locksmith who would be at my location in 20-30 minutes. “That is not going to work, I have to have him here in like 5 minutes”, I yelled at the call center dude. “Sorry man, it is what it is…I can’t drive him there”, the smug agent responded. I quickly shot back that we had to come up with plan B. “What else can we do?” He responded very matter-of-fact, “Break the window”. What? Did he just say what I think he said? There was validation to my initial thought after all! To break or not to break? I wrestled with the decision for exactly 3 seconds. Fine, I’ll do it...I mean I have no other option, right? There was no way I was taking a later flight! Note: later flight lands 2 hours after scheduled flight but the thought of playing barbaric criminal was clouding my judgment.

I was parked at the end of the hotel in direct view of several patrons shuffling in and out of the front entry. I grabbed a large cobble from a roof drain leader and waited for the optimum time when there were only a handful of people milling about in sight. I calculated my approach carefully. I would break the small half window on the rear passenger door, less glass. I took a deep breath, bowed up my chest and tapped on the glass with the dull hand instantly bounced back as if I were hitting a tennis ball to a brick wall. Harder I tapped...nothing still...HARDER again. I started beating that tiny window with all the cautious strength I had, to no avail. It would not shatter. What the hell, is this thing armored? So I moved to the larger window on the rear passenger door. I tapped again, harder, then HARDER. Somewhere at the Marriott Courtyard I am sure they have my ridiculous attempt at grand theft auto on film. I was completely dumbfounded! The glass had the deflection of an airplane wing! Finally, giving it all I had, the tempered glass succumbed to the constant blows from the rock and BAM! It blew open like a burst balloon. When it shattered it exploded with the force of a hurricane and sent glass flying all over the cab. It blew inward all over the backseat, front seats, console, dash, and even blew outward covering me with tiny shards of tinted glass (not the best time for me to be wearing flip flops, I might add). I carefully knocked the shards off and emptied my shoes, climbed into the back and unlocked the doors.

By this time, I had attracted the attention of anyone in earshot. To them, I was just some maniacal crack head beating the shit out of some poor guy’s truck window to steal CD’s or loose change. As I started cleaning the glass off the driver’s seat, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a man walking toward me at a pretty good pace. I thought for a second about just driving away, but the thought of the potential police chase that would ensue deterred me. I rolled down my window as he asked “Dude, did you just break into that car?!” No, I'm waxing it! “Do you work here?” I asked back. He said he did and asked for some ID. I showed him my license and told him the story, of course my rental agreement is electronic and the paper tag you receive upon checkout has no personal info, luckily he just glanced at both. He told me that a woman came running into the lobby screaming about a man dressed in black breaking into a white truck. I was wearing a black shirt…so I laughed, he did not. I apologized for the shards left on his parking lot while he stood in disbelief unable to comprehend what had just happened. He didn't even crack a smile and so I went merrily on my way speeding off with my adrenaline high.

I made it in the nick of time even spending an extra 5 minutes filling out a report at the return center. The rental agents all looked at me like an escaped mental patient when I told them A) the window was broken and B) I broke it. "Why did you break it?" she asked sheepishly as she handed over my receipt. "Your people told me too", and with that I bounced out the door. We all have our priorities and mine was not missing that 9:20 flight! So now I can add yet another valuable skill to my bag of tricks. Just call me next time you lock your keys in your car, I know what to do; however, I offer this word of caution: breaking into a truck via the rear passenger window is much more difficult than it appears on TV. Good thing I didn’t try the old towel-around-the-elbow trick, I would have certainly landed in the ER!

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