I got the call as I was pulling out of the parking lot. “Eli’s locked himself in the car!”
We’d taken Eli to the pediatric dentist for the first time. I’d met Misty and Eli there, where Eli was busy shrieking with excitement as he ran around the mockup of the Apollo capsule that was in the waiting room. (You do know that Huntsville calls itself “Rocket City,” right? We’ve even got a rocket Jesus.) The whole thing turned out to be very low-stress, as they just counted his teeth and asked us questions about him. This was more of a get-acquainted visit, to let Eli get used to the platonic ideal of the dentist with toys and fun nurses and no scary drills or anything anywhere, pay no attention to that high-pitched whine behind the curtain. “Say ‘aaah,'” the dentist told Eli, and “Aaaah!” he said excitedly before trying to bite the dental pick.
Misty was letting Eli play with the remote control key fob while we talked to a friend we ran into in the parking lot. Misty then put Eli in his seat and I went to my truck to drive back to work.
Only, it didn’t go the way we’d planned. Eli locked the car with the remote control, and when Misty strapped him into his car seat, the keys fell into the seat next to him. She shut the door, went to open the driver’s door…and realized what had happened.
I don’t normally carry keys for the car, and it’s a twenty-five or thirty minute round trip to go back home, get keys, and return. I made a hasty u-turn and found myself right behind a police car. “What about the cops? Think they could open the car?”
“Maybe,” Misty said doubtfully. Imagining how upset Eli was going to get, I decided to risk the short-cut. I followed the police car until it pulled into a brick building. I pulled in behind him, hoping I wouldn’t sound too crazed. Then I looked at the building. It was a police station.
Well, how about that? However, the nice man behind the counter explained that the police didn’t carry slim jims any more. I ran back to my car. Maybe no one would notice me spinning out in my haste. Misty called, and I told her what the policeman had told me. “That’s funny, I just called and they said they were sending someone to help.” Right then a fire truck turned onto the street in front of me, siren going and lights flashing. I followed.
Sure enough, they lept out of the truck and went to work with their own slim jim. I joined the small crowd around our car. “Are you the locksmith?” one of the firemen asked. “He’s the husband!” Misty replied. Eli was laughing and giggling inside. “We’ve made a game out of it,” Misty said, “so he won’t be upset.”
The firemen had that door open in thirty seconds. We pulled Eli out, no worse for his experience. He wasn’t sad until the fire truck drove away.