By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Years ago, don’t think I’m supposed to start off a sentence like that; but years ago a few of my close friends at church would end the Sunday meeting block by saying to each other, “Don’t do anything stupid.” We each knew how easy it was to make mistakes during the work week, so we’d give this light hearted warning to each other. The list of stupid things was wide open to our imagination; much like the scriptures that tell us to avoid sin, just be careful out there.

This afternoon I called one of my old buddies to let him know he should have called this morning with that warning, “Don’t do anything stupid.” He immediately broke into a deep laugh while asking, “Okay, Stern, What’d you do this time?” I then told him and remarked that perfection had yet to grab hold of me as he continued to laugh at such a prospect.

A Ford dealership called me out to make and program a set of keys for a 2001 Mustang which they had sitting on their entry drive. The customer was waiting and a little upset that a Ford dealership couldn’t make the keys; but the car was ten years old and Ford had already dumped the key codes.

Once the mechanical key was completed and turned in the ignition to set up the programming of the new transponder keys, it was determined the battery was dead. Subsequent to hooking up a set of jumper cables from my truck, the after market alarm kicked in; seems the alarm system had been going off for quite some time and drained the battery. The customer didn’t have the clicker and the bypass switch didn’t shut the noise maker off while the programming took place, wonderful!

The customer was present the whole time and watched as I explained how the old key(s) that were either lost of stolen, would no longer be authorized or start that vehicle; she seemed relieved at hearing this information. I then programmed the two new keys and demonstrated that they did indeed start the vehicle; the after market alarm sounding each time the key was turned. I advised her to take the vehicle to where the after market alarm had been installed to acquire another clicker, but she said it had come with the car when she bought it and didn’t know where the alarm had been installed, believing it was a Ford alarm system.

I told her that she could cut the wire going to the sounding horn and still drive the car, but it would be better in the long run to have the after market alarm system removed. I handed the bill to the service writer and got my purchase order.

About half an hour later I got a call, “Who’d you give the keys to”? I’d made sure Not to hand the keys to the lady who owned the car; my customer was the Ford dealership service people, the folks who were paying me. A sinking feeling came over me as I realized the keys were in my pocket and I’d driven ten miles across town. After all these years of training myself to make sure the customer handled the keys last, make sure they felt the key turn in the lock, make sure they liked the job; I still screwed up.

Eating Humble Pie once in a while is healthy for mortals; just wish I didn’t get to eat it quite so often. I suppose I should be grateful, could have been a lot worse; the customer might not have accepted my sincere apology for having done something dumb. Here’s the message, “Don’t do anything stupid,” isn’t a one time reminder.

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”

This will also appear as a feature article on Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America’s website.