Don’t try to solve the wrong problem. That’s the moral of this story.
I keep most of my various car keys and condo garage fobs on separate lanyards. It makes it easier to grab a set when I am headed out the door.
Last week while re-organizing and decluttering, I put the keys to the Volvo 122 and the Jaguar S3 on the same lanyard, thinking I would never be driving both of them at once.
Thursday, I wanted to take the Jag out for a drive. I was running late and in a hurry.
I got into the Jag, put the key in the ignition and gave it a twist. Nothing. It turned a little then stopped. I jiggled the steering wheel a little, as sometimes the ignition steering lock will bind up. Still nothing.
I turned the key with a little more force and felt it move — in a bad way.
I pulled the key out and the narrow part had nearly broken off from the fat part. (One wag on Facebook offered that the act of breaking a key is called “Twist and Shout” – you turn the key then shout when you realize you have broken it).
“Breaking off the key in the ignition could be a very bad thing” I thought. The parking slot for the Jag is four floors down in the basement of my condo building. If I broke the key off in the ignition, the car would likely be stranded until the virus was over. I didn’t want that.
Then I recalled that the seller of the Jag said they were including a spare key with the paperwork – which was under the floor mat on the passenger side.
Sure enough, along with the title work and repair records was a little plastic bag with a key in it. I was saved.
Not quite. Upon examination, the seller had sent me a blank, not a key.
So now I had to find a locksmith to cut the blank using the “almost broken” original key as a guide. I took my Hyundai and set out.
All the little locksmith shops were closed. I decided to go to Home Depot. The line to get in was about an hour long.
Before I got out of the car, I looked at the keys again. The uncut blank looked nothing like the broken key.
Then I realized the broken key was from the Volvo; in my rush to get going I had mixed the keys up. Oddly, the Volvo key had slipped easily into the Jag ignition switch.
I had a spare Volvo key. I located the correct Jag key on my lanyard.
If I had stood for an hour to get to the locksmith, he would have told me that the blank I had was not the blank that went with the broken key. If he had even had a Volvo-compatible blank, I would have returned home to find my newly-cut Volvo keys didn’t work in the Jag ignition. I would have been back to exactly where I started from.
I posted a query to the Volvo Amazon FB group looking for Volvo 122 blanks. Within a few minutes David Geisinger from Boston had posted a link to an eBay listing. I ordered two blanks. For $24, including postage, they will be here in three days. As soon as locksmith shops are open, I will have new ones cut.
There were many ways this story could have ended badly. If I had broken the Volvo key off in the Jag ignition, the car would have been stranded.
If a towing service had even been able to get to my car, once it was delivered to a repair shop, they would have told me it was not a Jag key that was broken off in the ignition. I would have been back to square one.
If I had waited in line at Home Depot to get a key cut, the new key would have been for a Volvo, not a Jag — so after a few hours of frustration I would have ended up exactly where I was before. I would have eventually found out that I was chasing the wrong key, and that I had a perfectly working key on the lanyard around my neck the entire time.
But the key gods were smiling on me. The key didn’t break off, I discovered I had a broken Volvo key not a broken Jag key. I had spare keys for both the Volvo and the Jag.
The only moral to the story here is that when something unusual happens — like the key not turning in the ignition, don’t jump to conclusions. You may be jumping down a rabbit hole and trying to solve the wrong problem.
Take a deep breath, rethink your situation, and approach the problem again.
Today, I’m thankful for keys that didn’t break off, and having plenty of spares.