Monday, January 21, 2013

Locked Out



Over the Christmas period there were several things that happened that make me seem like an idiot. This is the story of one of those times. The story begins with a pair of wellington boots.

In November Connie got a pair of Huntress wellington boots. They didn’t quite fit correctly, so we sent them back. However, I realised that walking Frank in the mud wasn’t exactly suited to my hiking boots, no matter how much I pretended. A pair of wellingtons became my number 1 sought after item. When my parents asked me what I’d like for my Christmas, I asked for a pair of wellington boots. They were given to me on Christmas eve, and on Christmas day I took them out for a good seeing to – and it was when I was stood in several inches of water in a burn I noticed that they were letting in water. So my mother returned them and I got a new pair.

This new pair seemed like they were perfect, so I decided that the first trip I’d take them on was a walk with Frank up the Cathkin Braes. I’d never been there before, so I looked it up on the sat nav and was ready to go – Connie, who’d normally be with me on such a trip, declined to come. She used the time to have the house to herself to start work on a set of nested tables we’d picked up basically for free from Gumtree as part of her new hobby in furniture restoration. This would make the virgin-wellington trip also the first time I’d be taking Frank on an off-the-lead walk myself.

Frank has slowly grown-up in the last few months, and now can walk with us off the lead in certain parks. Save for a few moments where he won’t return to us when called, he is getting there. And doing it on my own was something I was rather nervous about. Mix in a place that I’d never been before, and you’ve got a mixture of things that make this trip a little bit more nerve wracking than normal.

Arriving at the Braes I get out of the car and pop the car keys in my left jacket pocket, where I also store the small dog biscuits I use to give Frank praise. I then open the back right passenger door and lean over to retrieve my wellies. I slowly take off my shoes and try to fit the wellies onto my feet, but struggle as the straps weren’t loosened enough. I take about five minutes or so to get the boots on. I throw my trainers back into the car and close the door, and start to walk around to the boot to get Frank out, who had been patiently waiting and staring at me as I got my foot wear ready.

It was at this moment I had a sudden lurch of my stomach. 

I felt the back right pocket of my jeans. I then felt the two front pockets. I felt the back left pocket, which I knew to have a hole in it. I then felt both jacket pockets. I then looked don the ground. I cycled through the rest of my pockets twice more to check, but I already knew the answer. I tried the door to the car and it wouldn’t open. I then tried the boot, and the same response. I then looked into the back window, fearing what I’d see despite knowing already, and lo-and-behold, it was true.

The keys were sitting on the back seat inside the car. I’d locked my self out. They'd fallen out when I leaned in to get the wellies, because of the biscuits, and then the car had auto-locked as I 'd taken too long to get my boots on.

Now, this is normally where I’d panic. I’d swear, shout, thunder, maybe even throw something, but this time almost instantly something serene took over. A calmness that I’ve been trying to work towards for a long time. I collected my thoughts and took in my options. I had few – we only have one set of keys for the car, I am in the middle of nowhere, and I didn’t want to break the window. So I knew that if I broke the window I’d have to pay for a new one. I might be able to claim it on insurance. The other option was to try and break into the car.

I looked around. I had my house keys, Frank’s leash, and nothing else. Well, I had my phone, but how could I cal someone when we don't have a spare key? It would only panic them - no, this was something I'd have to do myself. I went into the Braes looking for wood and got some small square wooden sticks and a branch from a tree, and was ready to try and break into my own car.

The first decision I made was that I’d try to get into the back window. The windows in the back aren’t electric, and as such would probably only need some force to push the window down. So I create agap between the pane and the seal at the top and force wood in there. slowly, I manage to get 4mm free. I can’t get it to go down, no matter how much force I applied to the window and how much I tried to make it go down into the door. In this attempt, which lasted 10 minutes, I strained my abdominal muscles pretty badly – a week of pain lasted afterwards. It was during this failed attempt I noticed a quirk of the window – I was able to make it move quite a bit backwards and forwards in the frame. There was a serious level of tolerance.

This was then added to my knowledge, and I realised that instead of pulling the window down I could pull the window out, against the seal, and create a gap big enough to reach my arm in. I managed to get my arm into the car far enough to reach the door handle! Success, I thought – until I remembered that when the car’s locked you can’t open it from the inside, and there are no locks on any of the doors except the driver’s door. I hate this feature of the car. So what to do next? Realised that I could actually pull the window out of the frame, away from the seal, and then reach down and grab the keys. I measure the space, and my arm length, and thought it’d be close. I wedged the window open and pulled it away, and slid my left arm down as far as I could, wedging the bottom-most part of the “open” window against the flesh part of my elbow – this is another place where I’d have pain for a while afterwards - the bruising was a sight to behold.

However, despite my valiant efforts, I couldn’t reach it. I realised that, after 40 minutes of trying to get in, I was so close yet still so far. And I needed help.

During this time several people had parked their car and several had returned to their car. The place, whilst remote, has a fair turnover of people walking dogs or riding bikes. In fact, one person saw me breaking into a car that they didn’t know for sure was mine, and said “Hello!” in the cheeriest voice to me. It was when a car drove in and parked next to mine, and a lithe young fellow got out, when I decided to ask for help.

“Hi” I said, expectantly. His gaze was empty and confused. “You’re probably wondering why I am trying to break into this car.”
“Actually, I hadn’t noticed!” he replied. 

I then explained the situation, and pointed out the key. He then got a tent pole out of his car, and he held the window open as I reached it, looped the keyrings end around the pole, and slowly lifted it back out of the car and safely into my hand! Success! We shook hands, chatted a bit, and he gave me his card. I offered to buy him a drink of some sort but he declined saying he was in training for a ultra marathon. I unlocked the car, opened the back right door, and wound the window down… and it popped back into place! The only evidence of my escapades was a few marks on the top mark, some wood on the inside of the car, my injuries, and the slight gap in the sealant on the window.

So, all in all 50 minutes of trial and error with a success in the end. And a great story to tell. But you are probably wondering “What about Frank?”. Well, he’d been very confused. He had started out whining, then moved onto barking, then howling, before moving onto wailing. His need to urinate and defaecate had already been very important, so it was impressive he’d managed to stay in control. He was more please than I was to get the car unlocked, and celebrated by expelling a massive dump instantaneously after being let off the leash.

Moral of the story; given enough time and a helpful accomplice, people won’t care that you are breaking into a car.

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