Monday, October 20, 2008

Misadventure in America

After reading Kikey Loo’s Life in the United States, I feel the urge to share my own experience. (I am now back in Malaysia.)

The United States in different from the rest of the world. There, distance is measured in miles, not kilometers; temperature in Fahrenheit, not Celsius, and car engine capacity in house power, not liter. One thing which bothered me most was the central locking of vehicles.

In Malaysia, we activate central locking with our car key. In the US, it is activated by pressing a button on the inside of the car door.

A few weeks after I arrived at California, I drove to have my lunch in restaurant. After parking my car, I pressed the central locking button and slapped the door. Only then I realized: the key was still inside the car, and the engine was still running

Frantically, I contacted Hertz, the car rental company. The agent who answered my call was not helpful at all. I then called Patrick, my soft-spoken American colleague. He advised me to seek help from a locksmith, which I did.

Half an hour later, the locksmith arrived. Within 5 minutes he unlocked the car. The damage: seventy bucks!!! I had only been in America for a few weeks, and hadn’t made enough money yet. My heart ached when I handed over the greenbacks to the locksmith. I did not even tip him.

Incidentally, I wasn’t the only one who locked the key inside the car. Wilson, the Chinese guy who traveled to the Grand Canyon with me, called me one evening. He told me, “I made the same mistake as you…”

He was, nonetheless, luckier than me. He happened to have a friend who was the member of Automobile Association of America (AAA). The AAA mechanics helped to unlock his car.

I have a conspiracy theory: The Detroit Three must have purposely designed their cars in this way so that the locksmiths can make extra money!

You may also want to read these posts:
Candlewood Suites
Life as a Migrant Worker


  1. US$70 for 5 mins?
    Wow, could never earn that fast in a lifetime. I feel your pain, bro.

    After my trip from US, I have gotten pretty interested in the culture there. Went to Kikey's website to read too.

    It must have been a great experience to be able to stay/work there for a period of time. Lucky you! ^_^

    Ever thought of gg back to the States again someday for travel or long-term work purposes?

  2. shingo
    I think we should take into account the traveling time of the locksmith. US$70 is probably not too much. But of course for a Malaysian who had just arrived in the States, that was a big amount.

  3. Yes, your conspiracy theory might just be right! I'm sure many people made the same mistakes as you.

  4. Standard-wise, $70 I think is ok-ok. BUT, if you obviously look like a foreigner, then the locksmith might have taken advantage of that.

  5. very damaging to the wallet....XD

  6. I never have such mistake wor...

    (touch wood!!) I hope never happen to me while my stay at US... :p

  7. foongpc
    Maybe the locksmiths sit on the board of the car companies, haha...

    Perhaps I did look like a foreigner...

    It sure damaged...

    If you have a remote control attached to the key, the problem is solved. Unfortunately, I rented my car from Hertz and they didn't supply remote control.

  8. wow im sure many would have been blurred. like yr thoughts haha.

  9. I think cars in Canada have both systems.

    Oh, I can imagine $70 hurts... I would have been crying. Silly mistake but you really couldn't know!