Sound the Alarm

I walked to the backside of my car and unlocked the trunk with the key, successfully triggering the alarm. Great. I’m that guy.

Still, an accidental car alarm is nothing more than a slight inconvenience. Kind of like sitting down to eat an omelette you spent twenty minutes on only to be told by your significant other that he or she forgot their drink in the living room and wouldn’t you be a doll and get it for them? After all, all I would need to do is hit unlock on the key fob and the alarm would turn off, and I’d be free of dirty looks from strangers in the parking lot.

I hit unlock. Nothing. I tried it again. Nothing. I tried it once more, punching it with the force of a guy who’s starting to lose his cool. Nothing. Heads were starting to turn. Or at least I thought they were. Even worse, they weren’t the heads of random strangers. They were the heads of kids’ parents I coach, most of whom I’d never formally met. Seeing my inability to turn off a simple car alarm, I’m sure they were beginning to question my ability to shape their kids’ young soccer minds. “I bet he has a tough time reciting the alphabet, too,” they probably said to one another.

But then a strange thing happened and my car alarm turned off. For no apparent reason. It was as if the car had decided that the minute it sounded was more than enough time to alert the good guys that the bad guys were attempting to steal it. Good in this situation, bad in almost any other situation. Oh well. I wasn’t going to over think it. I could use the break and the car was old enough to make its own decisions.

I unlocked the driver door with the key, successfully triggering the alarm once again. Perfect.

I ripped my keys out of the door and went through the same sequence as earlier, pressing the unlock key, getting no response. I was growing increasingly agitated with each passing second. I circled the car, trying different doors, holding my hands up in self defense to all who could see (doing my best to suggest it was the car, not me, and that I’m competent enough to know how to turn off an alarm and also make a good bowl of ramen noodles), all the while pressing the unlock button like a guy who’s flipping through the TV channels as fast as possible.

Then the alarm turned off. As it had before, for no apparent reason. At that point I put two plus two together and determined my car simply would not sound the alarm for more than a minute. If any bad guy was willing to stick it out longer than that, fair enough. Take the car. You earned it. I enjoyed this thought for a moment and then realized something: the driver side door was now unlocked. This could be my big break!

I approached the door cautiously—as if sneaking up on a sleeping gorilla (but only because we were friends, and he was running late for his afternoon shift at Target). I gently placed my hand on the handle and pulled.

The alarm went off for a third time. My heart sank. I desperately tried the same bag of tricks, hoping—wishing—that this time things would be different. They weren’t. After about a minute, the alarm turned off once more, and I was in exactly the same spot. Not wanting to go through that again, at least, not while some of the parents were still in attendance, I left my car and went into the nearest building. I’ll just wait hear for a while, I thought.

Some time passed. I’m not sure how much time, but I feel reasonably confident in saying I could have juiced a few oranges in the time that did pass, which I assumed was enough time to let the parents finish up their conversations and get out of there. I walked back to my car, seeing that my suspicions were correct. The parents were gone. That solves one problem, at least.

Not knowing what else to do, and wanting to get out of the cold drizzle (Did I mention it was raining a little? No? Well it was. I was wearing mesh shoes. It wasn’t ideal.), I opened the driver door and took a seat. As expected, the alarm went off. But at least it was going off with me sitting inside it this time. And, after about a minute, the alarm quit. If nothing else the alarm was punctual. I could respect that.

Running out of ideas, I called my brother—the tech savvy/car savvy one of the two of us. If I have a car problem, he’s who I call. If I have a computer problem, say, I can’t convert a Word document to Pages or I want to know if it’s possible to be scammed by a guy on the phone who’s probably in another country but you gave him access to your desktop because you thought he was a nice guy, he’s who I call. I explained the problem to him, making sure to give plenty of detail. He seemed stumped.

A few moments passed and then he asked if I’d tried to start the car now that I was inside. I chuckled. Such a naive thing to say. Of course I’d tried to start the car. Or, I mean, at least I did when the car alarm was going off. But the little red flashing security light was still pulsating, so surely that was the same thing. But still, I’ll humor him, I thought. Get this out of the way so we can move on to solving the actual problem. However, there would be no further problem solving because a funny thing happened and the car started. I simply put the key into the ignition and turned.

Who would have thought.