Friday, June 23, 2006

Let it Rain

My locksmith business was under the weather this week, literally. It rained so hard on Monday that Houston made the national news, almost as if the pre-hurricane season needed a scoop to get the machinery lubricated. It happened again on Tuesday, buckets of rain mixed with plenty of lightning and thunder. A friend of mine’s house was struck by a lightning bolt that blew a 5 foot hole in the roof; fortunately the house didn’t catch fire. Another friend of mine had a huge tree blown over on top of his wife’s new car; that made the news while the lightning strike didn’t, go figure.

In between the rain drops I did manage to run a few calls for service. I made keys for a Ford Focus at one of my regular stops. The sun had come back out and turned the rain into steam; perspiration poured down my face so fast I had trouble keeping my glasses clean. Anyone who’s ever made keys for a Focus will admit, unless they lie a lot, that it can be a challenge getting the ignition cuts just right. I spent a little extra time to make sure the key was perfect prior to cutting the transponder keys and programming, no sense in wasting expensive keys. The fellow in charge of the small car dealership, Steve, signed off and I handed him the keys so I could get to my next job before the next set of thunder showers hit.

Steve called about twenty minutes later while I was finishing up a recode on a Tahoe door lock, “Hey, did you have any trouble opening the trunk on that Focus; maybe having to jiggle the key or bang on the trunk?”

“No, the keys worked fine and I opened the trunk and checked the keys in both doors; everything was fine”. It was still a Ford Focus, so maybe “fine” was a poor choice of words. Steve went on again that he was having trouble opening the trunk so I told him I’d swing by and see what the problem was; making sure I took care of my customer as if he were the only one I had.

Steve was at lunch when I visited so I had his second in command fetch the set of keys and try them. I still had the mechanical key I’d used to determine the final cuts and it worked the way it should. I had him try his keys and they also worked smoothly, no jiggling, no need to pound on the trunk deck lid or anything like that. We looked at each other and wondered how come Steve was having a hard time.

“You tell Steve that I had to work on the trunk lock for about an hour before I fixed it.”, grinning at the excessive lie when we both knew that there had been nothing wrong with the key to begin with.

That was Wednesday, and then Thursday morning I got a call from Steve asking me to check the trunk lock on that Focus again. I explained that I’d dropped by while he was at lunch and could find nothing wrong; but that I had a job down the street and so it would be not trouble to stop by once more. I began to scratch my head, trying to figure out what he might be doing to have such a problem.

Upon arrival, sounds like one of my old police reports, I noticed the trunk deck lid was open on the Focus. I had also been asked to open up one of the “junkers” that was intended to go to the auction, one where both door locks had been destroyed and fixing them would have doubled the value of the car; that kind of “junker”.

The fellow washing cars on the line watched as I applied my skills in short order and remarked that I could be a heck of an auto thief. I asked him to keep quiet about that, “Please don’t tell my parole officer you saw me doing this.” I know, professional locksmiths aren’t supposed to taint the waters, get over it.

Steve happened to ask what was wrong with the trunk lock, one that he never could figure out how to open. His second in command reminded him that the keys to the burgundy Focus were different than the keys for the black Focus; trying hard to suppress a deep belly laugh. I hadn’t planned to charge him for the needless trip, call it public relations or any number of things. I make plenty enough from that account without having to worry about something simple getting in the way.

I did pretend to write up a work order, pausing to ask, “How do you spell IGNORANT?” as I let him know that I had stopped by, not once, but twice because he didn’t have sense enough to look at which set of keys went to that particular car.

I ran a few more calls before the afternoon storms hit. I made sure that the last call, a simple recode of a door lock for a Toyota 4-Runner, was at the end of my travels. I pulled my service truck inside their shop when the rain began to fall, occasional blasts of lightning all around with heavy wind.

The few miles home were exciting, if not hazardous. Water was flowing from off the side over the curb where a bunch of new homes were being constructed, as if it had breeched the top of a spillway, running down Kuykendahl like a river on my way toward FM 1960.

I read an interesting article by a fellow who goes by the name “Individ” where he went about explaining the term “Jup Pluvius”. I thought it would be a neat way to end my story, let it rain; and anyway, the Astros have a roof over their baseball field.

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