When I was growing up, I distinctly remember my grandfather being able to use a screw driver to open the door of his old beater Ford pickup truck, it was a different time in what seems like a very distant place. The door locks never worked well for him, and he was insistent upon taking every opportunity to prove his was smarter than technology, and smarter than my tiny tot self. I would follow behind him, stunned by his genius. The same tool he used to open the door, could also clean the oil and dirt from his finger nails, tighten the hinges on my grandmother’s swinging gate, and if things were really stressful, start the tractor.

I take a page from his book as often as I can. Using what is around me to make my world go round. I’ve often called the process “cowboying it up.” But as time has gone on, I’ve found that simplicity has been replaced with security, and my incessant need to test that has often proven futile.

So take a page from my book, and pay close attention. You’re likely to lock yourself out of your home or your car at some point in your life, and when that happens, be very aware that a screw driver will NOT open the door for you anymore. New design models require exactness of the key to lock, and you’ll find that your bobby pin, the bent guts of a writing pen, nor the endless crying and praying will open your door.

I was blessed with the opportunity to learn this hard lesson not long ago while traveling across country to visit the place my grandfather rests. I’m sure he rolled over when he witnessed my ignorance. Stranded on I40, a long way away from anything or anyone, I stopped to watch the flowers grow and end the drought in the dessert territory. Squatted and exposed, I was beyond concern of the sparse passing by of prying eyes, I was certain I would float away if I didn’t do something quick. Somewhere between trying to put my shoes on to hop out of the car and the ever so wonderful “pee pee dance” I managed to lock my keys in my car.

But hey…not to worry….I’m a cowgirl at heart. I could handle it.

One big deep breath later, I started scavenging the land for a screw driver, and came up with a broken beer bottle, a cactus in my leg, and a piece of hard wire. The hard wire I could work with. I wedged my flip flop into my window and started attempting to fish the wire down the window to hopefully hit the unlock button on my car. Novel concept, if you are MacGyver. I’m not.

Several hours later, and buckets of sweat rolling off of my body, I decided the best option to avoid certain death by coyote, was to break a window. I assessed the car, looking at my options for victims. Now let’s be logical here, the smaller the glass, the smaller the damage and expense….right? I grabbed a rock, took one good swing at the small back window of my coupe car. It’s not how they make it look in the movies. I assume at this point, drenched in sweat and beating the car, the two people who happened to drive by probably assumed my ex husband was probably in the car. After aimlessly beating on the window, I resolved to the fact that the glass is in fact there for safety measures. It was a no go. So back to scavenging I went.

Now T-Posts, meant for building fences, have a tendency to be stronger than sandstone rocks, and after finding one, bending it out of the ground, and packing it the solid half a mile back to my car, I managed to shatter the glass of the tiny back window. Ah HA! I’m in. Or so I thought. The problem with tiny windows surrounded by shattered glass, is you have the stick some appendage of your body into them, in order to open the doors. And when your arm is approximately 2 inches too short, and the glass in now embedded in your armpit, you find new ways to string together swear words.


Also a great idea, had I not left the lights on and the battery was dead. No buttons would be working today, and the keys were out of reach.

Defeated, broken, dazed, and desperate for a hard drink of cold whisky a truck pulled up behind me.

Knowing without a doubt this man had no interest in kidnapping or touching my now sweat and blood soaked rag of a body, I sat perched on the ever heating asphalt and waited for his response to my situation. Low and behold, this man was a locksmith in New York City, traveling cross country to see his grand kids. He was fully equipped to open my car, did so without hesitation, and refused to charge me. He claimed the comedy of the situation was more than enough. He also informed me that the most expensive window to replace on a car is the back window, and the second most expensive are the tiny side windows. The cheapest……the windshield.

642$ later, and some great scars in my arm pit I am now an educated women who knows better than to pee in public, shatter my own windows, tear apart peoples fences, and not have the phone numbers stored for a local locksmith.

Thank you again to the kindness of Purple Locksmith NYC technician Joe. You truly are a fantastic human.


Jessica Hapshaw, KS