Sunday, April 29, 2007

The West Uncut: car keys


It’s not likely, but if ever you see me out and about, please ask if I have my car keys.

Chances are I will look shocked, disoriented, confused and then I’ll panic, because I know the stats, that chances are I will not have them on me, they will be somewhere else, anywhere but where they should be, in my pocket.

It’s not just my keys. And it’s not because I’m a Baby Boomer in the latter part of his life with brain cells disappearing faster than Australian flora and fauna. I‘ve done it all my life, leave things in a place they are needed least.

I dream about it, the leaving and forgetting of things, including forgetting to put things on, like pants.

Usually I’m in a shopping mall, wandering about, buying this and that, when suddenly, without warning, my pants are gone.

Once I have accepted I have none, then I remember I forgot to put them on, wonder why and why no-one is looking, pointing, yelling “Look, mummy, the man has no pants.”

It seems I am the only one who knows.

Hang on, I’ve drifted.

Here’s what happened on a week not long gone.

On the Wednesday I flew to Geraldton, or as I prefer to call it, Palm City, and then drove to Northampton to talk to a fine mob of farmers in the middle of the driest period they can remember.

On the Thursday I returned to Perth Airport, refreshed by the humour and generosity of the northerners and made ready to collect my car from its overnight bay.

With baggage held firm in one hand I scrambled about my body with the other for the illusive car-key with attached security device. Not in pocket, not in bag, not in hand luggage, nowhere.

In that instant, when the hand emerged from the last pocket without key, I knew where it would be.

I ran towards the car, to where I thought the car should be after the local car-stealing brigade had made their nightly sweep and plucked it from among the severely locked and disabled.

But no, there it sat, ignored as a model not worth the effort, all doors unlocked, security device with attached key firmly ensconced in ignition.

Knowing what a mob of Northampton farmers would do when they heard my story, I laughed, then I asked the questions I have asked before.

What is it that I have to do to make it easier for your average car thief?

What is it about my car that makes it unworthy of theft?

What is about the modern car thief that makes him or her bypass your wide open, key inserted, ready to go vehicle and make a b-line for the hard task, the locked-up, the security laden, alarm screaming, electronic masterpiece?

Is it the challenge?

As I have made clear, it’s not my marbles I have lost, it’s the marbles I have never had, for it is not the first time I have left my car, ready, waiting, enticing anyone with an eye for a vehicle not their own.

Once I left it in St George’s Terrace, not with the key in the ignition, but, in what I thought was an even more enticing positon, in the front door on the driver’s side.

Three hours later I came out of the luxury hotel to find it there, key glaring into the street, not a thief in sight.

I have left all manner of items in all kinds of places, only to return and find them sitting where I had once sat.

People have run after me in Greece, Spain, Switzerland and Japan, waving wallets, passports, room-keys and small change that was rightfully mine, but that I could have lived without.

There was, however, that once, when a very expensive pair of German sunglasses went missing from a South Perth beer garden and I was so shocked, surprised and confused I forgave the thief instantly and thanked him for not taking my car, which sat idling in the carpark.

As you can imagine, if there is one sentence I have heard more than most in my life it is this one: “You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on.”

It is screwed on, but I think my makers crossed the threads.

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