Lock and Key

LukeLife Lesson #4,357: Pay the locksmith.

By Luke Robinson


It’s the early 1990s.

Not now; I know it isn’t the 1990s right now! I mean for the purposes of this story and my word quota for this article. Anyhoo, it’s the early 1990s (I think) and Alabama is playing football on New Year’s Day.

Some family and friends are riding back from Biloxi, where they were volunteering at a local animal shelter…or perhaps playing lots of blackjack at the casino. Again, it’s hard to remember. Regardless, that crew pulls over somewhere in the vast emptiness that is the stretch of I-65 between Mobile and Montgomery to get gas.

As they exit the car, they see an obvious husband and wife in mid-argument. It was obvious they were married because datin’ folk don’t argue like that. In the end, it was even more obvious the husband was winning said argument as the wife slunk into the passenger seat with a dejected look on her face before he drove off. One friend—one nosy friend—just had to know what the hubbub was about, so he asked the cashier what had happened.

As it turns out, the well-to-do lady had made her way to the gas station to pick up a few essentials prior to the Alabama game. Some chips and beer and dip and beer and chicken fingers and beer, etc. As she went back to her vehicle, she realized she had locked her keys in it.

Well, darn. That sucks for her, right?

So the cashier gleefully helps her out. He calls several different locksmiths until finally—finally—a friend of his from about 45 minutes away answers on this holiday. The buddy says it will take him a minute since he was all hunkered down to watch the game, but that he was on his way. The locksmith arrives about 10 minutes earlier than expected (and in the middle of the game). He jimmies the lock and opens the car door. Hoorah!

Hey, the lady had a setback there for a minute, but all’s well that ends well, right?

That is until the locksmith told her the charges. “That’ll be $75, ma’am,” the locksmith told the lady. A reasonable price I’d say, considering he spent two hours (and one Alabama game quarter) of his New Year’s Day unlocking a car door for some random woman.

“SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS?!” the lady hollered back. “Are you out of your mind! That took you…what? Five minutes of work, if that? You are a thief! A thief I tells ya! No way am I paying that!” The locksmith stared at the lady, unmoved by her impassioned accusations. I am assuming she sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher to him. He simply nodded and replied, “Ma’am, I understand.” He then promptly retracted his hand, which had been dangling her keys in an effort to give them to her, walked calmly back to her car, flung said keys on the driver’s seat, locked the door (again), and then sauntered to his own vehicle. As she stood there—incredulous—the locksmith drove back from the direction in which he came.

The woman then proceeded to throw a Level 12 hissy fit. She demanded the phone from the cashier and she called her husband. The hubby showed up almost immediately to find out why she was so hysterical. Someone had to have reallllllllllly done something wrong to his wife to make her this mad, right?

Turns out, my friends’ car had pulled onto the scene just as the lady was finishing up the original story. The look on the husband’s face told it all in hindsight. It was a look that said, “You mean you made me miss some of the Alabama game because you would not pay a locksmith $75?” If that gas station clerk had even a semester of law school, he could have officiated their divorce right then and there. Lo these many years since, I have lived with the assumption that the husband is still yelling at his wife to this very day.

My friend, who had been rather fortunate at the casino—errrrr, animal shelter—that week, thought so much of the Rhett Butler-esque move by the locksmith that he gave the cashier a $100 bill and made her promise she’d give it to him. After all, he earned at least that much.

So let this be a lesson to you all: Should you be so unfortunate as to lock your keys in your car on a holiday during a big football game, just pay the damn $75 and be done with it!

This article was sponsored by the Locksmith’s Associated of Alabama—Unlock Your Dreams!

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