The Formidably Frightening Car Alarm Fiasco

So I’m sitting in the car when I hear the tell-tale snick of all the doors locking.

“All the doors just locked,” Tired of Being Youngest announced helpfully from the back seat.

Calm, gracious, and superb around young children — this is Tired of Being Youngest’s usual state. Dandelions by Steve Henderson

“I noticed that.” We are vaguely disquieted.

I’m in the passenger seat, holding the keys, waiting for the Son and Heir, my apprentice driver, to finish looking at blocks of wood in a friend’s yard. As a woodcarver, he’s in the equivalent of my yarn shop, debating the merits of walnut over oak, locust over birch.

I hit the button — click — and unlock the doors.

Two minutes pass of the Son-and-Heir critically viewing blocks of wood, hefting this one, peering at that one, setting two side by side and stepping back for a better view, when the doors lock again.


The sense of mutual disquietude in the car deepens.

I unlock the doors with a click. Two minutes later they lock again.

Surrounded by silence, except for Snick, Click, Snick, Click. Autumn Sail by Steve Henderson

Snick. Click. Snick. Click. Eventually,  understanding and motherly patience exhausted (there’s a reason why no one ever accompanies me to the yarn store), I click a last time to unlock from the inside and open the doors.

Big mistake.

Apparently, all this time the car has been trying to tell me something — concerned that no one is in the driver’s seat but someone is on the passenger side, fiddling with the keypad — it launches the alarm, that loud, raucous beeping people generally ignore because it happens so frequently, but which is outrageously overwhelming when you are sitting in the midst of it.

Simultaneously, the Voice in the Back choruses with my own to screech out the obvious:

“The car alarm is going off! The car alarm is going off!” (I’m sure that the neighbors appreciated this concise explanation of the situation at hand. We really should have been there for Paul Revere’s ride.)

Despite the illusion of being cool, calm, and over the age of 40 (this last one no illusion), I am not immune to feeling like an idiot in the midst of a boisterously rollicking fishbowl. It is the unrelenting noise, however —  which reminds me of a newborn with colic and the instinctive response of “Make it stop! Just make it stop!” — that freezes my brain and fingers.

“Make it Stop! Just make it stop! Everyone’s looking at us!” I’m not sure which of us shrieked this, but it represents the general consensus of our collective thoughts.

Frantically pushing buttons — the lock button, the unlock button, the panic button, the lock button twice, then the unlock with obsessive compulsive finesse — none of these make a difference. Although the entire fiasco involves less than 15 seconds, everything moves slowly, like a dream — except, mercifully unlike a dream, I don’t look down and find that I am unexpectedly topless, or have wandered into a public bathroom with unstalled doors and toilets set about, randomly, in the middle of the floor.

“Push the panic button!”

“I did!”

“Then lock it and unlock it and push the panic button!”

“I am!”

This all happened because of wood. Alpine Spring by Steve Henderson

“Then put the key in the ignition and start the car!”

That’s actually a very good idea.

I follow through. Start the car. Relieved that the proper key is in the proper place, it stops the alarm.

Ah, Silence. You Dogood.

The only sounds are the thunk of a piece of wood dropping to the ground. The Son and Heir discovered some maple in the pile.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
This entry was posted in Art, blogging, cars, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Family, Humor, Life, Lifestyle, Motherhood, News, Parenting, Personal, Random, Relationships, technology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Formidably Frightening Car Alarm Fiasco

  1. oldswimmer says:

    I am smiling so hard it hurts. This sort of thing really and truly just happened to me on mother’s day. And I was just as dithered as you were, believe me. A friendly person had closed my side door, so it wouldn’t stand open and run down the batteries while the car was turned off. That was nice of him, but I realized later that he had forced the door closed (it is supposed to be triggered and then it slides shut by itself without any forcing.)

    When I later went to get in the car and start it, the very same things happened with the beep beep beep beep (infinity sign here), and me trying this and that and struggling to find the car’s manual in the glove compartment. My son trying this and that the get the Mother’s Day racket turned off in his neighborhood. Someone inside the house at the family party said—put the key in the door lock. Yes. It worked. Whew! My car’s different from your car. Oh well…live and learn!

    I am so amazed that you chose this subject for this week.

  2. cabinart says:

    When someone’s car alarm goes in the distance, I usually say with sarcasm, “Call the police – someone is stealing a car”. WHY do we have those things when they continue to confound us, and cars continue to be stolen? I live 80 miles from Fresno, the car theft capital of the country, and drive a Honda Accord, the most stolen make and model. Nice, eh?

    • One of my favorite scenes in the Jason Bourne movies (can’t remember which one) is when Bourne, somehow, sets off a line of car alarms and befuddles the people looking for him. It always reminds me of what you’re saying — “Oh, ho hum. The car alarms are going off.”

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