Keys and New Cars

 In Story

I have embraced woodland life in many ways since moving to Brown County. In some ways I’ve really personified the stereotype. I chop my own wood, hunt mushrooms, drive a tractor, I even own a pickup truck. I’ve had several actually, and as my wife says, my life seems somehow incomplete unless I have some pile of junk to work on. I’m ever in hope of a mechanical resurrection of some kind. Even though my day job is fairly technical, my heart is at its fullest when I’m driving around in something that I can fix with a hammer and bailing wire. I have a certain appreciation for crank-up windows and manual transmissions. My favorite beater was an old F150 from the previous century with a great throbbing inline 6 engine that I’m proud to say was often installed in school busses and dump trucks. A rolling dose of woodland testosterone. And I could fix it with my Leatherman tool. I know, because I did. A lot.

Well, things transpired as they often do, and it was time for Dear Wife to get a new vehicle. I’m not sure how it happened because it occurred so quickly, but we went to the dealer in the old Ford, and came home in a new RAM. My bride was thrilled and I was a little disoriented. This truck had everything. Power windows, a heated steering wheel, a button that would raise the suspension for more ground clearance… it even had a big screen on the dash that I swear could show you YouTube videos. She was driving the future.

I don’t get to drive it too much, as she’s commandeered it with all of her stuff. Kids car seats, insulated bags, boxes of tissues, and various implements of shopping destruction. I’m happy that she’s happy, though I do miss the beater truck, and here’s why:

Last Sunday I had to deliver a big tent to a friend in town. It only made sense to load it into the truck since that’s what it’s made for. I loaded her up, jumped in with the keys, and was immediately disoriented. I’m used to twisting an ignition key and this has a big start button that you push. So after following the appropriate launch procedure as directed by mission control screen, I got a message “Key fob Battery Low”. I can change that later, right? Right.

So I went on my way and made my delivery to the delight of my friend, and you can guess what happened next. Upon preparing to launch for my return trip home the big screen told me “keyfob not detected”. It was right there in my hand, but no amount of pleading and button punching would convince the truck from the future that I was authorized to make it go. This was a first. I’ve run out of gas, run out of air in the tires, even run out of antifreeze, but I have never run out of “ignition key” before. It’s almost as insulting as running down a battery powered book, but that’s another story for another day.

Being resourceful, I pried open the keyfob and walked across the street to the drugstore to get a new battery. Problem solved! On my walk I also had plenty of time to consider investing in the battery business, since every new car runs on these blasted coin shaped things these days. But I digress.

Once back at the truck I opened up the battery package, or more accurately, I tried to. That blister pack was made of some super-plastic that was hermetically sealed on all sides. “Safety sealed for your protection” should have been the warning! I tugged, I tore, I even chewed on that package. Here I was in this rocket powered truck surrounded by uber-technology that lets me tune the radio by voice command, and I couldn’t start the blasted thing because I needed a stone aged tool to break open the battery packaging. I didn’t think I’d need the Leatherman tool to fix the new uber-truck. It was sitting home in my little travel tool kit that is allegedly unnecessary in these new vehicles.

Eventually the packaging relented, and needless to say I was late getting home. When I got there and explained what had happened, Dear Wife said “Honey, the truck should have told you about the battery so you could change it before you left the house”. Yes baby, the truck told me. It looks like even the new truck thinks I need to be a better listener. So, let my misadventure be a lesson to us all. You can take the boy out of the woods, but you should never let him take the Leatherman out of his pocket.

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