Yesterday I needed a box for a large gift. In a nearby community there’s a self-storage place that also sells boxes, so I motored on over to buy one. And while I was there, a frantic woman came in and asked if I had a hanger. She had tossed her keys into her car, they landed on the “lock” button, and now she was locked out—right in the middle of moving and trying to unload her storage unit. The two guys helping her had told her to call roadside service, pay the sixty bucks, and get the doors opened. Easy for them to say, right?
“Oh, no,” I said, seeing at once that this was a plan for spendthrifts. “You can’t be spending sixty dollars for that!” I didn’t have a hanger, but I was happy to drive her to a nearby shop where they might have a spare hanger. “It’s just down the road,” I said, “no trouble at all.” Granted, today’s cars are not as easy to pry open with a hanger as they used to be, but to save sixty dollars, it was worth a few minutes to find out.
We arrived at the store and my new friend explained her predicament. The clerk was more than happy to help, but couldn’t find a hanger—it turned out this was a consignment store that only sold jewelry. “But,” said the helpful clerk, “the police will come and unlock it for free.”
What? They do that? Fantastic! My friend and I were thrilled. The clerk offered to call them for her. As she was dialing I assured her that this made perfect sense because that town has such a low crime rate that people read the police ledger for laughs. “You are moving to a wonderful community,” I said. Not only was this entire area filled with helpful neighbors but a bastion of law-abiding citizens as well.
We could hear the clerk telling the police dispatcher that a lady’s car doors were locked and she needed a squad car to come and help her. There was a pause and then the clerk said, “No, she is not inside the car.”
(sigh) Are you kidding me? The dispatcher asked if the woman was still inside her car? What did she think—that the woman jumped out to report being stuck inside, and then hurried and hopped back in to await rescue? Who asks the cops to get them OUT of a locked car?
It is so lucky that I was not the one making the phone call because I might—might—have said, “Tell me the name of the high school that allowed you to graduate.” Or, “Yes, she’s in there, alright. I can see her waving. Now she’s holding her throat like she’s choking—I guess to show that she’s running out of air.” Here I am, demonstrating this predicament:
And what am I to tell this woman, now? You’re moving to an area where people are nice and trustworthy, but some of us are imbeciles? Here I am with my friend, Cynthia Horst, demonstrating how awful this would be if it happened in her CONVERTIBLE!
Well, it turns out that this town’s police force doesn’t even provide this service, so we were back to hunting down a hanger, which we did find and all was well. Better than well, because the box store guy said if I could do a good deed, he would, too, and gave me the box for free. Just another perk of living in northern California, where niceness, at least, abounds.
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