Home > Magazine > ChaiTime > Fun Time: DRIVING OFF WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR



Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
September 2019

It happens to me at least once a month: I almost steal a car.

Well, I don’t quite enter the car, but I come fairly close. The only thing that stops me is that my key doesn’t work.

The problem, as you may have guessed, is that my car is a little too common in my town. I drive a white Honda Odyssey minivan and, for whatever reason, so do a lot of other people.

When I walk out of a store and look for my car, my memory often plays tricks on me and I walk to the first white Honda Odyssey I spot. If I’m lucky, I realize that it’s not my car before I attempt to open it. Usually a bumper sticker or some empty coffee cups in the car tip me off. “Wait a minute,” I tell myself, “I didn’t go to Starbucks a thousand times.”

But once in a while, I use my key remote to try to open the car. When it doesn’t open, my first reaction is to curse Honda for making an inferior remote. But just when I’m about to bang on the door, it occurs to me that perhaps this isn’t my car.

I look around and spot another Honda Odyssey. That must be my car! I’m about to enter it when I notice the bumper sticker: “Make America Great Again!” I move away as fast as I can. Where is my car?

It takes me a minute to find it—and another minute to get the remote to work (it really is an inferior remote). Then I’m finally on my way, thankful that I didn’t steal a car.

I don’t know why so many other people had to buy the same car that I did. Couldn’t they have bought a different color, at least?

You may think that it would be impossible to accidentally steal a car, but it happened recently in Portland, a city in the U.S. state of Oregon. A woman named Erin Hatzi told the local newspaper, The Oregonian, that her red Subaru was stolen from her driveway. The accidental thief returned it the next day, claiming that she was supposed to pick up a friend’s red Subaru from the neighborhood, but picked up the wrong car instead. She left a note of apology and enough money for gas.

Here’s the troubling part: her key worked on both cars! According to police, keys for older Subaru cars are sometimes interchangeable.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. A woman in New York City accidentally stole a Honda Accord in 2004. Her key worked on another car! A Honda rep called it a “rare” occurrence that a key would work on more than one car.

I can’t help wondering how many other keys are interchangeable. Is it possible that the key for my Honda Odyssey works on other Honda Odysseys? Perhaps it’s unlikely, but even if it’s remotely possible, it would a problem for me. I don’t want to be an accidental thief. I don’t want to accidentally end up in prison.

Just imagine if I drove away in the wrong car and didn’t notice the wrong children sitting in the backseat. I’d be an accidental kidnapper! When the jury sees my face, do you really think they’d believe me?

I wish car manufacturers would do everything they can to prevent something like this from happening. It’s not just keys that need to be unique; it’s also other aspects of cars. I know it would be hard for colors to be unique, but surely they could have a wider variety of colors. What’s wrong with pink or purple or violet?

I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to drive a pink car if it keeps me out of prison.

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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