Locked inside your car on a hot day isn’t so funny

Something strange happened yesterday that had it not ended in the death of a man the episode might have landed in the “funny” column. Let us expound upon this: It was “funny odd” and not funny “LOL.”

I was downtown on business thus I drove the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze that is my work-mobile. I had just finished having the first oil change for that auto. Perhaps I should point out that it was hot yesterday. How hot was it? Well, the official temp at the Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Nederland was 92 around that same time with a heat index of 102 degrees F. I was near the Port of Beaumont, some 15 miles northwest of the airport. I believe that I read somewhere that the highest point in the county in elevation is 24 feet. Occasionally a sea breeze rolls in some 30 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico. Still, I suppose we can settle upon “hot” as our answer to the question “how hot was it?”

Once I had settled inside the hot Cruze I strapped in and attempted to turn the key. It didn’t turn.

Using my large mechanically-inclined though mostly facetious brain I figured if the key didn’t work nothing else should work. So I combed through the owner’s manual eying the key section. That  selection had a lot of information, I was shown how my key was supposed to work. It even taught me how to start my car remotely. It didn’t tell me what to do if my key did not work.

While sweating profusely inside the sweltering car I began wondering what might happen if I were locked inside. My cell was working so I could call for help. But just to test out conditions I opened my car door. I also was able to use my window buttons. Apparently the key was turned just enough for that.

But I couldn’t figure out why the key didn’t turn all the way over. I finally looked at that GSA help book that was with my car when I first picked it up in Houston some 4,600 miles back. I eventually found a number for a technician. Fortunately, I got a laid back guy on the line who asked a couple of questions. Among those questions, did you try moving the steering wheel back and forth? No, I hadn’t tried that. So I tried that a couple of times and the car ignition fired up like it always did.

The technician teased me saying: “You can send me the check.” I said: “Huh.” It turned out he was joking. It’s easy to get your brain fried in that heat. That’s where I get to the part where the story is not funny (Ha-ha.)

On the local news last night I heard about Port Arthur police finding a man dead in his car outside the Waffle House on Jimmy Johnson Boulevard. Yes, it’s that Jimmy Johnson, the coach. He is a native of Port Arthur. So is Janis Joplin. So is rapper Bun B and so was his late rapping partner Pimp C. I’ve been to that same Waffle House before. Some nice people work there. The Waffle House is also only a mile or so from the airport, the official weather station,

The victim, who was known to frequent the restaurant for coffee and to charge his cell phone, died along with his dog inside a 2007 Corvette. Police said he had apparently attempted to get out of his car but was unable to do so. One TV report indicated he might have become stuck while trying to exit through the back window.

Police officers said a battery cable apparently became loose which caused the electronic doors to lock inside. According to this You Tube video produced by a man who sells the Corvettes, the G6 generation of the cars have alternate ways to both enter and exit when ea battery loses power. If outside, there is an actual key inside the fob that allows the driver to open a rear lock hidden from sight. Once inside, a mechanical device inside the rear of the car can be pulled to open the door. If locked on the inside, a lever with a red marking is located on the outside of the seat.

This linked article indicated the victim’s relatives said the “proximity key” worked sometimes but not at others. I am not really sure what that has to do with getting locked inside. The car is supposedly a G6. I’m not sure how long the man had the car or how familiar with his means of entrance and egress. On the other hand, there could have been a malfunction in the front lever and perhaps he indeed became stuck trying to use the rear exit handle.

I really don’t know what happened to the deceased. The incident certainly left a great deal of questions.