The Keymaster

BeachI have some tips for those beachgoers entrusted with the keys to their rental car. First, don’t forget to take the keys out of the pocket of your swim trunks when you go swimming in the ocean. If you do that and, by some minor miracle, the keys haven’t been extracted from your pocket and swept up in the ocean foam, you should immediately take the keys back to a safe place, along with your wallet, house keys, sunglasses, lucky rabbit’s foot, Palm OS device and other valuables.

Do not think to yourself, “There’s a lot of wet sand all over these keys, perhaps I should wash it off quickly in the water before taking it back to my beach towel,“ because the tumult of some crashing wave may inadvertently knock the keyring out of your hand, swallowing the keys up in the briny depths of the shore, causing expletives to drop out of your incredulous, gaping jaw.

The Incident

This happened to me on Sunday, and it brought back that awkward feeling from my adolesence, the kind of feeling that burns with hot pinpricks of embarrassment, and grates on the nerves with panicky self-loathing. Between bouts of complete disbelief that I could be so damn stupid, I was busy cursing myself for being so damn stupid.

Luckily my girlfriend has a cooler head than I do — if you ever lose car keys in the ocean, it’s handy to have a girlfriend who can maintain presence of mind — and she immediately got on the horn with, first, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and then AAA.

The Value of Not Freaking Out

Now here’s where that calmer demeanor really paid off: the first assessment of the situation from AAA was that they would have to send out a locksmith, who would cut a brand new key at the exorbitant price of US$225. Gulp. I was inclined to do it though — I was in a hurry to put my embarrassment to a quick end, and would’ve paid practically any price to get myself out of that sticky situation, pronto.

My girlfriend — and her mom, who was with us on the beach, and probably one of the reasons why I was so panicky, though she was very understanding and laid back about the whole mishap — convinced me that it would be a better idea to wait until this morning and call a local Toyota dealership to see if they would be able to cut a new key.

Once I calmed down, this seemed like a sensible idea too, and so we hitched a ride back with some park rangers to the beach house where we were all staying. When we called this morning, it turned out to be a trivial affair to cut a new key… the price was a much more reasonable US$5. Whew! Just don’t trust me with any valuables near large bodies of water.