A Volvo is uniquely designed to be very difficult to break into using conventional means. Coat hangers, for example, cannot be bent around the closed windows due to cleverly arranged metal ridges and other obstacles.
This is an important fact to understand when you've locked your keys inside one, while the engine is still running.
I stopped into a gas station on my way to class this morning, through sheets of near-freezing rain that blatters against the windshield in heavy drops that refuse to be swept away by the wipers, which instead simply smear grime and grit around the glass, further obscuring any attempts at vision.
Dropped a few dollars on the counter: for coffee, and for cigarettes, my two vices and the only things that will keep me going for the rest of the day. Went back outside, pulled on the handle to my car, and felt my heart twist as I realized.
A Volvo is also intelligently designed to prevent this exact occurance. The driver's side door cannot be locked while the door is open. In order to lock one's keys in the car, one must undertake a very specific series of steps meant to completely circumvent the effort those Swedish engineers put into protecting you from your own stupidity.
I took those steps, and this was the result. A feeble whimper choked its way up from my throat, followed by a roar of rage that drew contemptous looks from passerby.
Dejected, I went back into the gas station, and asked to use the phone. The woman behind the counter peered at me in a manner that suggested I had asked to slay her first born son. Reluctantly, she allowed me to use the phone, but only if she dialed the numbers. I suppose this is some measure of security beyond my ken.
Naturally the first few people I called were unavailable. I finally caved and called a locksmith. Told them where I was, what model car, asked how much it would cost. Weary from asking the unpleasant registermonkey to continue dialing, I went back outside and begged a coathanger from a stranger, bent it straight, and attempted to do what I've done so many times before on so many other cars, though never for my own, hoping I could get this done before the locksmiths arrived, thus saving me from having to pay them.
And this is where I discovered Volvo's dedication to tamper prevention.
All in black, the collar of my long coat turned up against the wind and stinging rain, I stood out there for an hour in sub-freezing temperatures, bending the wire hanger this way and that against my hand, a process which would normally prove painful, but now failed to affect my chilled hands. The difficulty of this undertaking was compounded by the rapidly failing dexterity in my cold-numbed fingers and the carbon monoxide smog from my own engine, still idling, draining the fuel into nothingness.
An hour. Time to admit defeat.
Back inside with my now-worthless coffee, I ask to use the phone one more time to find out where the hemmorhaging fuck the locksmith is. The clown at the register rewarded me with another incredulous look, appalled at my request to use the phone again, and queried, "Do you have any money?"
A real human-rights type, this one.
Being a spiky haired man in black, on rare occasion, can be useful, as I turned the full force of my glower against her and Vader-voiced her into giving me the damned phone. Called the locksmith one more time, demanded to know what the holdup was.
"Ah," says the woman on the other end of the phone, "you didn't actually ask to book the locksmith."
"So...?" I manage.
"You just asked for the price, you need to book them to come out."
I'd like to thank the Academy... Maintaining this level of grace when all you'd really like to do is rip the phone out of the wall and smash it through the display case of Red Bull, requires as much acting skill as I've ever had to muster.
"Alright," I said, smooth as venom. "Then please, book a locksmith to come out here as soon as possible."
"Thirty to forty five," the woman responds, and hangs up.
Nothing to do now but wait. People enter and exit the gas station, barely noticing me leaning up against a stack of Sprite and Mountain Dew. I make idle eye contact with a few random people, and generally slouch about.
Twenty minutes go by this way until a fast-talking and quite possibly insane man offers to help. It's clear he has no idea what he's doing, but I figure it can't hurt. He has that sketchy look of someone who, just possibly, might have a great deal of expertise in unlocking cars that he shouldn't be unlocking. I'm only half-listening to his over-enthusiastic ramblings as my attention is caught my an incredibly cute red-haired girl walking in.
The psycho snaps me back to attention as he races out into the parking lot towards my car. I follow, and watch as he jams the coat hanger this way, then that way, and then in the sunroof, to no avail. He finally gets the idea that maybe if he had a screwdriver, he could pry open the sunroof and get the coat hanger through it enough to snag the door handle.
My cute redhead is just walking out at this point and getting into a small truck that matches her hair. The lunatic asks if she has a screwdriver, and she opens a little toolkit in the truck to reveal an assortment of masonry tools. He grabs a chisel and leaps onto the roof of my car, attempting to leverage the chisel against the sunroof. The girl's eyes meet mine and she asks, "Did you lock yourself out of your car?"
"Yes," I admit. "Yes, I did."
"I'm sorry," she allows.
"Well, thanks for letting me use the chisel," I begin, even though I'm not the one using it; this fact is punctuated by the frenzied grunting coming from the next parking space as the guy is still trying to jimmy open the roof. It occurs to me that she didn't come here to wait around while strangers used her toolkit, although I'm also wondering what a thin and seemingly fragile girl is doing with a truck full of masonry tools. "I'm not keeping you, am I?" I start to say, but I'm interupted by the triumphant whooping of the lunatic, who had just pried the sunroof open a bit and could now almost get the coathanger in place.
He returns the chisel to the girl, who puts it away, and just about then is when the locksmith shows up. I figure I've wasted enough time and energy on this, and the coathanger probably can't reach the handle from the sunroof anyway, so it's time to let the professionals handle it. I talk to them a moment, the guy is carrying on about some totally unrelated matter.
Takes the locksmith about two minutes to slide a flexible piece of plastic into the door, and on this plastic is a string which, when pulled, causes the plastic to flex and bend into a shape appropriate for grabbing a door lock. Pop, the door is open.
I open my wallet and hand him sixty five dollars. I don't really have sixty five dollars to spare. The only reason I had sixty five dollars on me is because I had planned to use it to pay the gas bill after class. But I don't really have any options at this point. My money is gone, and so is the half-tank of fuel I had, uselessly spent into the atmosphere as the car idled for two hours. The girl is gone, too.
I'd missed class by a good two hours, and I drove back home in the rain.