Apr 012011

In my entire lifetime I’ve been locked out of my house or vehicle fewer times than the fingers on one hand. I always keep my keys in a pouch in my front pants pocket. Even then, modern vehicles will automatically lock the door if the door is shut with the locking mechanism on.

Years ago, I drove a 1987 Dodge Daytona Pacifica. I was shocked to find out how easy it was to “slim jim” my way into the car, or most cars for that matter. At the time, I was particularly concerned about it being stolen, mostly because it was a relatively new car. I was good about always checking that I had my keys in my hand or pocket as I closed the door, but no one is perfect. I fabricated a very simple slim jim from a hacksaw blade and learned how to open my own car door. I hid it in the plastic bumper of my car.

I had to use it on one occasion, and a woman actually stopped and asked me what I was doing. Evidently she believed my true story that I locked my keys in the car, and she didn’t call the police. After I sold my Daytona, I owned a series of 1965 Fords, which required one to lock the door from the outside. In my opinion, this is the way that all cars should be built, but obviously my opinion carries no weight with automotive designers.

Several years ago I bought a 1977 Ford F-250. By 1977, Ford was making their vehicles in the new style, in which one is not required to lock the door from the outside. For a long time I rationalized that I simply wouldn’t need a slim jim or extra hidden key, as my discipline was so good. Well, no one is perfect, and eventually I screwed up. Thankfully it was when I arrived at work. This was when I was working in the maintenance department of a steel fabrication facility. This business employed a lot of ex-cons, and thankfully one of my co-workers was proficient with a slim jim. He opened the door of my truck and delivered my keys to me. I think he’d taken a couple of falls for burglary, but I never asked him. He was one of the nicer ex-cons I worked with…

I knew deep down that I would have to come to terms with the lockout issue, and I finally took care of it tonight. For years, I’ve kept useful tools in belt pouches. Here’s a photograph of the pouches on the left side of my belt:

On the far left is a leather pouch for the Core model full size Leatherman tool. In my opinion, the latest iterations of the Leatherman tool are some of the best designed hand tools ever created. On the far left is a pouch for a butane lighter. In the middle is a leather basketweave pouch intended for a mini-mag flashlight. I keep a mini-mag, but on my right side. Instead of a flashlight I keep a copper tube, which has a friction fit cap. I bought it years ago in the plumbing department of a hardware store. I believe it’s supposed to be used as a water hammer preventative. As it just so happens, the copper tube fits inside the flashlight holster just about perfectly:

Amazingly enough, I didn’t even have to cut the tube to length to allow it to fit inside the holster!

Until tonight, I’d been using the tube just to hold a ball point pen. But this was unnecessary, as the Carhartt jeans I wear have small side pockets that are perfect for pens. So tonight I finally got around to doing what I should have done years ago; put some extra keys in a belt pouch. I had to sand down a house door key and a door-ignition key so they would fit inside the tube. I cut a piece of plastic to act as median barrier so the keys wouldn’t rub against each other and rattle around in the copper tube. I made a lanyard loop out of 80 pound test braided Dacron fishing line:

Of course, this is all well and good for keys locked in a truck, but won’t save me if I run out of the house in my casual wear, which is usually a sweatshirt and Nylon running shorts. If a rabid raccoon got in my house I might just make a dash for the door, in which case I’m screwed!

 Posted by on 04/01/2011 Personal History

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