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John Robinson - Locked Out
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John Robinson for blog
by John Drake Robinson
I saved it as the crowning end to my whirlwind three-day tour of Clay County. Well, it was supposed to be a highlight, my visit to Hangar 9 at the old KC Municipal Airport, now called the Charles B. Wheeler Memorial Airport.
Until dumb struck.
Nowadays, the hanger is home to the Airline History Museum, tucked into a tight riverbend beneath the watchful eyes of the Kansas City skyline. The museum is a highlight, one of Kansas City's best-kept secrets, if you ask me. And Missouri Life had asked me to describe the fun diversity of Clay County, this crown atop the map of Kansas City. So I drove into the parking lot, excited to savor this museum, nationally known for one specific relic that sits inside.
But on this blustery afternoon as I walked from my car to the hangar, I realized I'd locked my keys in my car.
I stood, numb, frozen--not from the wind and rain that pelted me, but from my own stupidity.
My car, Erifnus Caitnop, doesn't deserve such rude neglect. She's performed nearly flawlessly as my Trigger, my Lassie and Old Faithful all rolled into 120 horsepower. She is my one constant companion along my journey across every mile of every road on Missouri's Highway map, my trusty steed for 14 years...281,000 miles and counting.
But on this day, she sat protecting my keys from the wind and the rain. And me.
I must confess that this is not the first time I've locked the keys in this car.
Twice in one day.
She was new and sleek and shiny, and we were still getting used to the road together when it happened. The first time was like any time you've done it. And don't tell me you haven't done it.
The second time, hours later at a Casey's in Madison, I filled her tank with the corn-laced liquor she loves. I hung the hose on the gas pump and returned to open the car door.
My heart sank.
It only soothed my ego a tiny bit when the locksmith arrived an hour later, and told me, "Yeah, these cars have a protective locking system. So when you leave the keys in the ignition and shut the door, it automatically locks. Keeps thieves from hopping in your car."
I promised Erifnus I'd never again treat her with such neglect.
But over the years, as with most partnerships, there were stressful moments. Most were caused by driver error. Spinouts. Warning tickets. Getting stuck in mud. Sliding sideways under downed power lines. Stuff like that.
And now this.
In the windswept parking lot of Hangar 9, I regained my composure, and went into the museum, confessing what I'd done to the friendly folks inside. They were extremely helpful, being a collection of pilots and mechanics and classic airplane lovers.
But try as we did, we couldn't make a coat hanger unlock my car.
So after a delightful tour of the museum, and a walk down the aisle of that classic old aircraft with its three tailfins and four engines and porpoise-shaped fuselage--and a hundred dollars or so for a locksmith, I thanked my hosts, tucked my tailfin in the driver's seat and drove home.
For more stories about Erifnus, her skill and bravery in the face of human goofiness, go to my website and get my book. http://johndrakerobinson.com/
For more about this delightful airline museum and its one-of-a-kind aircraft, don't miss the Missouri Life June issue featuring Clay County.