It's Friday afternoon. Campus, the building, the department, hell, the hall are all pretty much dead. Around one o'clock, I'd done my allotted amount of the work for the day and figured I would go home.
As I was walking to the parking lot I saw a car awkwardly parked in the driving lane. Is that the correct term? You know, the area where you pull in and out of spots. Anyway, it was at an angle that basically had it taking up the whole lane, quite successfully. From a distance it looked to be in the area where I parked my car.
Guess what? It was. Directly in front of my car. With no driver in sight.
I hustled (it's cold out!) back into the building and into the security office. I just barely started to explain the situation when SecurityMan interrupted with an explanation:
The driver's key broke off... while still in the ignition.
A tow truck was on its way and SecurityMan agreed to call me once the car was gone. [He actually just called a few minutes ago, saying that the truck was here, but the car has yet to be removed. I'll give them a few more minutes.] Now, this isn't that big of a deal for me. I'm not rushing off anywhere, just wanted to start my weekend a little early. And no one could argue that this is most unfortunate for the car's owner, but my question is:
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?
It's clear that the car started and that she was able to partially back it out of the spot. But that's all I understand of the situation. Here are the possibilities floating around in my head:
- She started the car as normal, and only after starting to back out the key broke, thus stalling the car.
Is that even possible? Some force is needed to break the key, it couldn't do it on its own, right? Could a broken key stall a car?
- The key broke off as she turned the ignition, but the car started. After figuring she could drive to a garage she started to back out, but then the car died.
This I feel is more plausible, but again, we're back to if a car could run with a broken key in it? Can you simultaneously break a key AND start a car?
- She drives a manual and while backing out the spot the car stalled. When she tried to restart the car, that's when the key broke off.
- And the final possibility: A gremlin popped out from behind the back seat and smashed the key with a sledgehammer.
If you have any sort of auto-knowledge, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Or perhaps more interestingly, if anyone has a bizarre explanation, comment that as well.
I'm off to check if my car is free. Wish me luck!
Update: All was clear.