We all have those moments when a realization suddenly hits us that we have just done something so unbelievably dumb that we can’t believe that we’ve actually done it. They almost always have unpleasant consequences. But we almost always find them humorous in retrospect.
One of my all-time dumbest acts occurred some years ago while I was driving from Baltimore, Maryland to El Paso, Texas to attend a conference, a trip of approximately 2,100 miles (about 3,400 kilometers) . Whenever I drive long distances I make hotel reservations at my destination city but not for any stops en route. I don’t like to feel any pressure to make a certain point. One never knows what traffic will be like.
I had made only 500 miles the first day due to heavy traffic and getting caught in a few long delays due to accidents. The second day was much better. By 6 PM I had driven 730 miles and was close to Shreveport, Louisiana. So I decided to stop there for the night and finish the trip the next day. It would be a little more than 800 miles, a distance I’ve driven in a day quite often.
I got off the Interstate on the west side of Shreveport to avoid having to drive through the city the next morning during the rush hour. At the first motel I stopped at I was advised that there were no vacancies, and because of the local race track seasonal opener there wouldn’t be a vacancy anywhere within a fifty mile radius of Shreveport. I wasn’t too displeased by that though; it was still early and going further would make for a shorter drive the next day. So I got back in my car and headed further west.
About an hour later I exited by the city of Longview, Texas only to find the same situation – no room at the inns. I kept on going west. But the exits started to get further apart and no motels with vacancies. For two more hours I would exit, find no vacancy, and get back onto the Interstate.
Finally, a little after 9 PM, tired and hungry, I found a motel with a room for me. I was so happy and relieved. I paid for the room and drove back to where the room was – parked in front of the door – reached over and opened the glove compartment and pressed the trunk opener button – got out of the car – got my luggage from the trunk —- then realized that I had left the motor running. So I went to cut the engine and discovered that I had locked the car door with the key still in the ignition! 😳 I swear to the Almighty above that is the only time I have done that in my life!
I walked back to the motel office and explained my problem to the clerk and asked if he had a metal coat hanger I could use to try to jimmy the lock open. I spent over a half hour trying to do that with no success – as the car engine and air conditioner continued to run happily.
The clerk came out and told me that the police had a tool to release car door locks and he would call them for me – for which i was grateful. He came back and told me that the police said they would come over and help me, but they first had to obtain written approval to use the tool from the local Justice of the Peace. It was another 45 minutes before the police arrived and quickly got the car door open.
It was now after 10:30 PM and there was no restaurant open nearby. This little town was in the middle of nowhere. So my late dinner consisted of a candy bar and a soft drink from vending machines. 😥
I laugh about the experience now, but to this day I can not figure out how I could have unthinkingly locked the car door with the motor running. I just don’t do things like that.
Years later I had another incident involving keys on a business trip which was not at all funny, even in retrospect. That I’ll write about another time.