Wednesday, August 20, 2008

That’s Just The Way It Is

In the movie, Babe, the little pig who thought he was a sheep herding dog; there’s a line sung by three little mice at the close of a scene that got my attention, “That’s just the way it is.” The shrill voices laughing in harmony as Babe learns a lesson about life, pigs don’t get to eat inside the house; only dogs and cats get to go inside, “That’s just the way it is.”

Thought I’d share a few things that fit into that category, little observations as I went about my business. It’s been raining here in Houston for several days; an inch one day, two the next and again today a light mist saturates an already soggy turf. One of my regular small car lots called this morning wanting me to make some duplicates and fit keys to some cars, “repo units”, out behind the fence.

Most times that’s a reasonable request and I’d be out the door and on my way; not today. I reminded him how it’d been raining and that anything behind the fence would be sitting in a mud hole; that I wasn’t taking my truck anywhere near that mess, “That’s just the way it is.”

Then there was the young man who told me he’d lost the only key he had to a Lincoln Navigator. He’d gotten my name from the car dealership as knowing how to make and program a replacement key. Upon arriving I noticed “Slim Jim” type marks near the edge of the window on the driver’s side. The owner, standing on the other side points inside the vehicle and tells me, “Well I’ll be, the keys are right there. All you need to do is get it open now.”

I hardly ever use “Slim Jims” or, for that matter, any other car opening tool when opening a Ford/Lincoln/Mercury product. I fit a door key; it accomplishes the most important thing, obtaining a working door key which gets me that much closer to completing my job of restoring a lost key. Another benefit of fitting a key as opposed to “popping” the lock comes in my knowing that it’s the safest and smartest way to get in; can’t do any damage to the linkage or electrical systems inside the door cavity.

I “felt” the tumblers in his door lock, wrote down each cut and then clipped a perfect factory key which did absolutely nothing to open the door; oh, the key turned just fine except all the linkage rods had been unhooked by whoever worked on it prior to my arrival. The best part was the look on the customer’s face; a cross between, “Wow, I didn’t know a key could be made that way” and “Darn (substitute a more common expletive if desired), now I can’t blame the locksmith for breaking my door; something I knew had already been damaged all along but wanted to get a free repair job.”

I walked around to the tailgate and unlocked it, permitting the owner to climb in and retrieve the keys which had been sitting inside all along. I smiled and gave him a short course in door panel repairs technique as he forked over the cash payment we’d agreed upon; a discount provided since I didn’t have to supply a transponder key or the programming.

If times were tighter I might have taken the opportunity and suggested a price for repairing the damaged door; but that would have taken all the fun out of walking away from that slime ball and knowing he’d have to bite it, “That’s just the way it is.”

I’ll share one more and then get back to watching the Olympics; that’s where the judges pick their favorite and then figure out a way to justify lopsided scores awarded; I know, “That’s just the way it is.”

A week or so back, before the rains came and turned the oven into a mud hole, I got called out to make keys for a ninety “something” Chevy Geo Prism. The car had been sitting up for quite a while under a big Oak tree and the fellow wanted to get it back to running condition; having a key would help.

As soon as I opened the door I became aware of a couple of wasps hanging around, agitated when the door swung open. A careful inspection pointed to a large paper wasp nest which had become part of the car right next to where I needed to work.

I could have sprayed it with a can of wasp killer; but having a friend who works at the GM parts counter is easier. I make keys for their used car department so his company has a copy of my license and bond as well as my open account which makes such transactions possible. My thirty years of experience indicated the best way to fit a key near a wasp nest was to obtain a key code; you don’t have to do it the hard way all the time, “That’s just the way it is.”

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