I am pretty good with technology. It all started with the Commodore 64 and I have tried to keep up ever since. It’s not that I know so much about technology. I’m just not afraid to press buttons till I get what I want. The goal is, and if this were a movie it would be a classic line of dialog, Never let the machine win. So it was especially humiliating when I locked my keyless entry fob in the trunk of my new car when I first got it.
My daughter and I had just shared a lovely meal. It was the sort of evening you flash back to when remembering the simple joy of being with those you love. We swapped eyeglasses and ate off each other’s plates in the kind of on-screen actions that establish the relationship between characters.
But the night was about to go from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “The Matrix.”
After dinner, we went to the car. I opened the trunk just by touching it; this was doable because I had the key fob in my purse. I put my purse in the trunk as did my daughter. And here we would cut to a shot of our purses strewn in the trunk because it is essential to the plot that we don’t have cab fare.
You see, as long as the fob is on your person, you have security access to open the doors and operate the vehicle. So I figured putting the fob in the trunk was covered.
Not so fast, Private Benjamin.
Before I closed the trunk, my daughter said ominously, “Get the key.”
Next came my famous line, “We don’t need no stinking key.” (Sound effect of trunk slamming shut.)
A slow-motion sequence played in my mind with garbled sound as I went to the driver’s door and pulled the handle. It normally releases to a sequence of lights, beeps, and screens like something out of “War Games.” But this time…nothing. I was locked out of my brand new keyless car. The access code, which can be entered on the exterior door panel at times like this, was stored in my smart phone—you guessed it—in my purse. In that moment my phone was smarter than I was. The code eluded me and I didn’t have on my ruby slippers.
Fortunately, we used one technology to save us from another. My daughter had her phone in her coat pocket. I called the Ford dealer to get the access code. He asked for my Social Security number and the cat’s name. But when he told me the code my face contorted into a quizzical double take.
“Is that some kind of dealer master code?” I asked.
“No, lady, that is the only entry code for your car,” he said, evidently forgetting that he was speaking with Sigourney Weaver.
I instantly knew that the number he gave me was wrong. Like Jason Bourne, I recalled that my real code was an even number that contained two prime numbers followed by an integer and its square. I just couldn’t remember what those numbers were.
I fatalistically entered the dealer’s code into the car door as violins from the “Psycho” soundtrack screeched in my head. I yanked the locked door handle to no avail and did a Harold Lloyd impression, running around the car trying to open every door.
At this point I was in a dream sequence with my own mother invoking one of those Yiddish expressions that sounds like she is about to spit. “It’s bashert. It’s destiny,” I heard her say in a gauzy sepia tone. Suddenly, her face morphed into Obi-Wan Kenobi. The force would soon be with me. The dealer was on his way to take us home and retrieve the other key fob. (Like Meg Ryan’s fastidious Sally, I had put a lockbox on the front door so we could always get into the house.)
I waited for our ride with the resolve of Sarah Connor. The machine would not win; it was a tie. The power of technology equaled my mastery of it. But why did this ill-fated episode happen? I imagined, in menacing handheld footage, that the delay was for some greater good. Would we have gotten into an accident if not for this diversion in our travels through Middle-earth?
“It’s bashert. It’s bashert,” I heard in an echo chamber. As God is my witness, I will never leave the key fob in the trunk again.