In Praise of Roadside Assistance


It had been a good day. There was no line at the post office. I paid for my lunch with a gift card I got for my birthday and used a coupon for a free birthday sundae. Then I locked my keys in the van,

I was at the Goodwill Clearance Center, my favorite place to shop.

I must have been distracted. I took the keys out of the ignition and put them on the dashboard. I got a text message, read it, replied. I put my ring in the glove box so I wouldn’t lose it. Then I jumped out of the van, locked the door, slammed it shut. I took two steps before I realized I wasn’t hearing the rattle of my key chain. Oh no!

I wheeled around, and there they were on the dash. Oh no! What to do?

I walked around the van and tried all the doors. Locked. I tried to push down both front windows. No luck. I checkedย  the other windows: all locked up.

One of the long, narrow side windows doesn’t have glass. The glass was busted out not long before I bought the van. That window is closed with plastic and cardboard. Could I pop out the plastic and cardboard and climb through the window? No. The last time I locked my keys in the van (in December) I pulled the screen off that window and popped out the plastic and determined there was no way I was going through.

(That time I had left the keys in the back of the van. I was able to reach in through the window and use my umbrella to knock the keys close enough to grab. I didn’t actually have to climb through the window. This time I’d have to go all the way through the window to get the keys from the front of the van. I imagined myself getting stuck trying to pass through that window, my legs dangling outside, stuck like a baby with shoulder dystocia.)

I didn’t have my phone with me. I’d left my phone in the van. I had to find a phone.

Thankfully, I did have my insurance card in my little zippered pouch. On the insurance card is the phone number for roadside assistance. I wasn’t sure if roadside assistance covered rescuing my keys from being locked in my van, but it seemed like my best bet.

I still had to find a phone. I went into the Goodwill Clearance Center. I asked the woman at the first register if I could use the phone, told her I’d locked my keys in my van. She couldn’t let me use the phone without the manager’s approval. Thankfully, the manager approved.

In less than half an hour, Mr. Hernandez had arrived and used his special tool ( a slim jim, I presume) to unlock my door. I grabbed my keys, and I was back to having a good day.

I think I pay $14 a year for roadside assistance. It’s tacked on to the insurance for my van. I use it about once a year, but there’s no limit to how often I can use it. It covers towing, changing flats, jumping dead batteries, and rescuing keys locked in the van. (I’ve used my roadside assistance to deal with all of those problems.) I recommend roadside assistance to everyone, especially van dwellers.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.ย  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

8 Responses »

  1. I have roadside assistance as well, but I also have a key safe under one of the bumpers with a spare key in it. When I first put it there (after locking myself out twice!), I couldn’t remember where I’d put it so there I was, rooting around under the car, looking for the little magnetic key safe ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I remember where it is… because I’ve used it twice since I put it there! I’d recommend getting one and putting it somewhere where you’ll remember it is ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. I’ve never gotten a key safe because #1 I was afraid it would bump off and I wouldn’t have it when I needed it and #2 I was afraid someone else would root around under the bumper and find it and steal my van.

    Lois, now everyone knows you have a spare key hidden under your bumper! You better change your hiding spot. Ha! Ha!

    • Hahaha! I’m not worried about anyone who reads your blog stealing my car. And my thought is that if they can find me, and find the key holder, and need my car more than I do, well, more power to them!

      The magnets used on these key safes are super strong. I have to pry that sucker off when I need it ๐Ÿ™‚ I drive on very bumpy land mist of the time because I’m boondocking down dirt roads – it hasn’t fallen off yet!

  3. Good to know the magnets are super strong. Do you have a special (stronger) one made especially for vehicles or is one magnetic key safe as good as another? I will look for one at the hardware store, unless I should look at the auto supply store.

    • I think they’re all designed about the same. I just know that the one I got has to be pried off the bumper when I need it ๐Ÿ™‚

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