Monday, April 19, 2010

Kodak Moment Lost

I did a locksmith job at a Ford Dealership Saturday morning. One of their customers had a 1998 Mustang hauled in on a wrecker after losing their only key, believing the dealership could simply look up the key code and punch out a replacement. The key code was not on file because the vehicle was too old.

Ford Motor Company dumps what they consider to be out dated codes after several years as if this information took up valuable space on today’s computers. Maybe they still use floppy discs and can’t wait for somebody to invent the hard drive. I shouldn’t complain; I make a living restoring lost keys and Ford has lots of cars and trucks out there, some much older than 1998.

“Nobody will ever ask for key code information that old, not now, not ever...”, as Ed McMann would have said. Johnny Carson giving his boyish grin would reply, “Wrong oh sage of Metamucil”, his eyebrows floating momentarily for the camera. This ancient Tonight Show monologue is wasted on a generation wondering, “Johnny who”? Carson…, the guy after Jack Parr but before Jay Leno; give it a moment, “Jack who”?

The service department called me to fit a set of keys and program them, one of those “I live for this” locksmith calls. The car was parked in the back waiting area, taking up two parking places since the wrecker driver couldn’t turn the steering wheel. I went to work.

A few minutes later I had the mechanical key figured out and was ready to hook up the programming computer except there was no power; likely I was going to need my set of jumper cables. I popped the hood and got my laugh for the day, looking at the shade tree fixit job, a sorry excuse for doing it right.

One of the battery terminals had bounced off the post, it having been held in place with a pair of channel lock pliers. Channel lock pliers don’t really lock; they require a steady application of hand pressure, unlike Vice Grip pliers which really do lock. So, our shade tree mechanic took a piece of stiff wire and twisted it around the channel locks, which had been clamped around the battery terminal connection to hold it all together; didn’t really work very well, now did it?

In short, rather than replace a worn out battery terminal, something that costs a couple of dollars and would have solved the problem permanently; our hero decided to think outside the box. Maybe he got the idea from watching Junkyard Wars or a similar show, a marvel in engineering skills.

I turned in the programmed keys, got my purchase order and explained how they would enjoy looking under the hood the first time they tried to start it. One of the mechanics standing nearby shook his head and breathed out slowly; must have been the way I was laughing or perhaps he’d already seen this particular vehicle; and me without my camera.


MK said...

That would have been something.

Reminds me of people who shell out a lot of money for a fancy german car only to put el-cheap tires on the thing. Some people just won't get it.

T. F. Stern said...

MK, These are the same folks who won't put premium gas in either and wonder why the car gives terrible performance. No, this turkey of a shade tree mechanic might not have his permit to use anything except round nosed scissors.