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The Difficult We Do Immediately, The Impossible Takes A Little Longer

July 15, 2015

I have had a nagging fear for the past 7 months. It’s stayed with me every day, often lurking in the back of my mind only to come rushing out at a moments notice to remind me that all is not right in my world. 

I had only one ignition key for my car. 

I know what you’re thinking,

Rodney, that’s a silly thing to be worried about. Just go get a copy made.

I did. I took my lone ignition key to the Lexus dealership. They wanted $45 to make a copy. Okay. It’s a little steep, but my peace of mind is worth that. 

Sorry, Mr. Bliss. We can’t do it. 

What do you mean?

Your key is too worn for my machine to make a copy. If you’ll bring me the VIN and the registration I can look up the key code for you.

Thanks. . .I’ll get back to you.

If I took the VIN, which is the Vehicle Identification Number and the registration showing that I actually am the owner, the Lexus dealership would not be able to make a key. Because the key code is tied to the VIN. But, the ignition system isn’t original. The ignition system came for a different car. So, the dealership could look up and make a key for the old ignition, but it wouldn’t work in this one.

I continued going about my life hoping against hope that I didn’t lose my keys. There was also the added inconvenience of everytime my lovely wife wanted to use my car instead of the 15 passenger van that she normally drives I had to give her my key. And then I had to get it back. 

The doors are fine. I have multiple keys for the doors and the trunk. That’s because those came off of still a different Lexus. The door key and the ignition key don’t match. 

Have you ever worked with someone truly extraordinary? Someone who is so good at what they do that they don’t even realize it’s unusual? I’ve worked with them occasionally. It’s both an exhilarating and a humbling experience. Exhilarating because it’s amazing to watch someone who is truly an artist, and humbling because I’m not sure I’ll ever get that good at anything. 

Generally, when I work with these people, they honestly don’t understand that they are exceptional. They consider themselves good at their jobs, of course, but it would surprise them that someone thinks they are exceptional. 

I went to a locksmith to get a key made for a car that a friend gave me. I’d been to the Chrysler dealership and armed with the title and the VIN number, gotten the key code. I took that to the locksmith and they cut me a new key. I happened to ask, 

I wish you guys did Lexus keys.

Oh? We can copy Lexus keys.

Well, this one is pretty worn.

I need to order a blank for it, but come back on Tuesday and we’ll give it a try.

Yesterday was Tuesday. The locksmith took my key and disappeared into the back room to copy the key. I was expecting either to pay for a key that he cut that didn’t work, or more likely, have him tell me that it was too worn out. 

Hey, can I get your door key? I want to test this ignition key.

Sure. The car is a bit of a Frankenstein monster, it’s got parts of three different cars.

Well, it’s going to be even more of a Frankenstein since this key blank was for a Kia.

And with that he started the engine. I was surprised. Pleased, but surprised. 

I’m impressed. The Lexus dealership couldn’t make a copy.

Really? That’s weird. At first my machine wouldn’t read it, but then, I’ve seen this first point gets a little worn, so I pulled that point up 3 steps and the it spit the code right out. 

He saw the key on top and recognized it as the key on the bottom.

As you can see, these keys are not simple. They involve lots of cuts. It was nothing to this locksmith to tweak the reader until he teased out the correct code. And he was genuinely surprised that it was considered extraordinary.  On top of that it was $10 cheaper than the dealership was going to charge me.

I’m grateful for trades people who are so good at their jobs that they don’t realize how extraordinary they are.  

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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