Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When You Break Your Car Key in the Trunk Lock

After a lovely 3-day, 2-night backpacking trip along the Skyline to the Sea Trail with friends (see Carol's write-up), I arrived at my temporary home-base in Daly City at around 7PM. I open the trunk using my usual insert key-twist-lift motion, began to unload, and then needed to get into the driver's side door again. When I reached for the key to unlock the door, I saw to my confusion and dismay that the end of the key was gone. Then, I went to look at the trunk, and sure enough, there was a bit of silver showing inside the lock.

I went up to my friend's apartment and called AAA. They told me that to have someone come out right then would cost me $235, and $135 if I waited until morning. Being that I'm in transition, I opted to wait until morning. And in the morning, I decided to see if I could somehow get the bit of key out of the lock myself. When I inserted the broken key into the lock, I was still able to turn the lock. This led me to come up with what I realized later was a silly idea to put superglue on the part of the key in my hand, then shove it into the lock and get the other end stuck to it to pull it out. I didn't fully consider the repercussions of getting superglue on other parts inside the lock.

Luckily, my search for superglue in my friend's apartment was fruitless, and when I went to the auto service station around the corner, the workers there seemed dubious enough about my plan that when I finally got Loctite from one of the staff, I paused and tried to figure out some way to compromise between my DIY plan and the pay-someone-to-do-it option.  I lifted the trunk and looked at the lock from behind, and saw that the mechanism holding it in place was relatively simple, just one large and one small metal clip. I used a small screwdriver to pry the clips out of the way, and had my hefty, somewhat greasy little lock in my hand. This took about five minutes. I didn't use the internet, though I could have. I've never done more than jump-start a car and check oil levels, but having an auto mechanic uncle and being around car repairs most of my life probably gave me more motivation to figure it out.

Lock in hand, I walked the mile or so up Mission Boulevard to Daly City Locksmith, which I'd been to once before years ago. They weren't too busy, and Jay was able to remove the key bit and cut me two new keys (somehow I've lost track of all my spares-- they're... somewhere) within about fifteen minutes, and it cost me over $100 less than if I'd had roadside service. I had spent nearly two hours finagling with solutions to get to that point. Going by the penny-saved, penny-earned maxim, I made $50 an hour. Not bad. I'm really lucky the key broke in the most easily removable lock on the car, or else this would have been much more expensive and complicated and stressful. On top of that, I would have gotten a parking ticket the next day if I couldn't move my car.

I was so relieved and grateful that I told Jay and Yvette that I would say nice things about them on the internet. Yvette said to check out Yelp and see the "essay" review on there. Indeed, there have been a few people who were not very happy with their service. Well, it's inevitable that there are bad days now and then, with customers and with staff, and it's a good rule of thumb to always take reviews with a grain of salt. Since I experienced friendly, affordable, quick service from them, I'll be going back.

Other things I ought to write about: the backpacking trip I mentioned, my new occasional gig at a climbing gym, upcoming travel plans, new climbing-related endeavors, and a project picking up again. All in good time.