I did it again. Unbelievably, for probably the fifth time in my life, I locked my keys in the car — with the engine running. This time it wasn't so terrible. It was early in the day (unlike another time when I didn't discover until five o'clock that I'd locked the keys in the car with the engine running since one) Chris was able to leave work and drive over with his key. Embarrassing but nothing compared to the first time — the very first time I locked the keys in the car with the engine running.
I'd just landed my dream job — starting off in a new program with endless possibilities and a boss who'd never been a boss before. We were embarking on a wonderful adventure of building a program from the ground up, literally. We started with nothing and needed to create it all. I'd decided that before I could start anything I had to have a sense of my boss' taste and so I wanted to take her shopping to see what she gravitated toward. We didn't have much time because she had to be at a meeting at 5 but I was happy to have any time together to get a sense of who she was. We were liking the same things, pretty much the same colors, I had a clear sense of what she'd like and it was what I'd like too so that made me happy and hopeful about the road ahead. Soon we needed to start leaving so I could get her to her appointment. I gathered my things, opened my bag and started looking for the car key when I couldn't find it. It wasn't there. Not in my pockets either.
It wasn't my car. For some reason I was driving a rented 11-passenger aqua van, I guess because we had family coming to visit and our one car wasn't enough? I went outside horrified I might have locked the keys in the car. The car was on.
I sprang into action. I needed a phone (no cell phones), I needed a phone book (no internet). I leapt over the small gate to get behind the store counter where the wall phone was situated by the cash register and the boxes. The small local car rental place (due to close at 5:30) was slow in responding. Undeterred, I demanded that someone bring me an extra set of keys IMMEDIATELY. Reluctantly, the manager agreed. I paced until they pulled up and then I unlocked the door, checked the gas level, got my new boss into the car. and drove to her appointment. I was mortified.
For months, all I could think was that she was sorry she'd hired me. That she'd made a mistake in choosing me. (She picked me against all advice about the qualifications necessary to fill her needs.I didn't have the experience others wanted but she held to what SHE wanted in a "partner.") Before I even began the job I'd screwed up. Now she was stuck with me.
Years later, when the discussion somehow centered on that early meeting, I had the courage to mention it. That I was sure she regretted hiring me after locking the keys in the car with the engine running.
"I never knew that bothered you " she said, "In fact, I felt just the opposite. You jumped in and resolved the problem so quickly that I was in awe; if anything it completely confirmed that I'd made the right choice."
GEEZ. I'd spent three years beating myself up for that mistake. Wish I'd known.