This weekend I lived the proper adult life and ran errands, which was exciting as it has been since errands were invented. By the time I was walking into my last store, it was dark and cold, and I needed either a nap or more coffee. I was so focused on my discomfort that it took me five whole steps to realize I did not have my keys, and that I had left my spare key at home, because I am too confident in my own memory.
My 1996 Subaru is an unautomated fortress. The only ways you can get in is either with the physical traditional key or breaking in. Some more recent cars are designed to not lock if the keys are still in the ignition, but my car is about 15 years too old to be fancy like that. Nor does it have one of those number pads on the door like the cool cars did when I was a kid. But I was still overly confident in myself and shrugged as I walked into Target.
Target is one of the great stores of our time, and millennials will die by the bright red minimalist logo before abandoning it for another, but the wifi is notoriously bad, and my data wasn’t doing much better. So there I was with bad internet, which is the nightmare of everyone, unable to simply do a Google search for local mechanics’ store hours as I walked through Target.
If we were living in the 21st century the movies have been promising for decades, I could have flown home with my jetpack.In the middle of the curtains aisle, genius struck. I would Uber back to my apartment, get my spare key, and Uber back. I was delighted with my modern creativity for about five minutes before I realized that my apartment gate card was with my car keys, in my locked car. I shrugged the thought away with the hope that some random person would let me in, until I realized that my house key was also in my locked car, and my spare house key was in my locked apartment.
The world stopped. I was trapped at Target without the option to leave immediately, should I so desire it. I couldn't leave, and I couldn't get home. I was instantaneously homeless. I did not have 100% control over what I was doing, as our technologies and inventions strive to allow. I was actually subject to outside forces, namely my own ineptitude and the fact that losing one single thing had totally destroyed my plans for the next hour or so. All because I didn't have one tiny thing.
Technology had failed me. If we were living in the 21st century the movies have been promising for decades, I could have flown home with my jetpack, let myself into my apartment building with my fingerprints, let myself into my apartment with a retina scan, grabbed my antiquated car key, flown back, and fixed my problem myself without even having to talk to another person. But no. The movies lied to us, just like they did about our soulmates sparkling and the world moving in slow motion when we met them.
And then I remembered I had AAA. I was saved (thanks Mom). Without them, I would have been stuck calling mechanics until I found one, which would have taken forever. And since I would not have found a mechanic given how late it was, I would have been homeless not for an hour, as I was, but for a night. I would have had to call a friend, Uber to their house, go to bed on their personal schedule, get up earlier than I like to, call mechanics again, and Uber back to Target to wait for the mechanic to arrive and save me. Hopefully I would have gotten home by mid-morning, and I would have gotten to work hours late. I would have wasted hours and hours doing work AAA automated for me, and I would have had to be lazy according to other people, rather than myself.
Instead, I avoided that horrible situation and waited for my rescue, comforting myself by buying fluffy pajamas.
The fellow-millennial mechanic was stumped by my old-tech hatchback fortress. He asked if I had a spare key, but before he too could suggest Uber I pointed to my keys, still in the ignition, and said that was where my house key was. He laughed and continued his siege on my car. Eventually he succeeded in breaking in, and I drove away wishing we could’ve come up with anti-locking technology earlier.
Now we just need an app that goes off as soon as you put your hand on your front door, and goes through the “keys, wallet, phone” routine for you.