I pulled into the parking lot of the old McDonald’s where I had worked for six months when I was sixteen, and wondered if anyone I knew still worked there after three years. It was only March, but already warm in the Tucson foothills. With a quick motion, I turned off the engine of the compact rental car and yanked on the key.
It wouldn't budge. Dumbfounded, I pulled a few more times, turned the car on and off, and tried again. Nothing. I pushed on the key, checked for a release button, beat on the steering wheel… Nothing.
This was the first time I’d ever driven an automatic transmission, but how hard could it be? It was an automatic, for crying out loud. The worst part was how I kept trying to push in a clutch that wasn’t there every time I slowed down. But getting out of the car should have been the easy part.
I looked around the quiet shopping center in desperation. I couldn’t leave to ask for help when the keys were still in the ignition. Nice neighborhood or not, that was just plain idiotic.
Of course, so was getting the key stuck.
I had to be missing something obvious. I took a deep breath and did a survey of the dashboard, steering wheel, and controls. Engine off, key in the off position, no release button. I looked down at the gear shift knob. Hmm…
So, who knew the car needed to be in Park before you could take the key out? 😉