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It had been a long day of work, and it was late and dark on a winter evening, when I left my office. When I got to my little pickup, I found it covered with snow and ice. I unlocked it and started it so it would warm up while I scraped the windows. I chipped away the snow and ice, then stepped back to the pickup door, only to find it locked.
I realized that I was in a real predicament. My pickup was running, I had locked my keys, including my office keys inside, and my colleagues were all gone, so I couldn’t ask them for help. And this was before the days of cell phones, so I didn’t have anything with which to call home.
I thought about walking around campus to try to find some place from which I could call my wife, but I knew there weren’t any public phones, and there was not likely anyone still at work. I also realized that if I did call my wife, she would have to come out on this dark, cold night and travel the twenty miles to come to my rescue.
As I pondered my options, I saw the small back window into the cab and remembered that I had opened it the previous night. I check and happily found that it was still unlocked. I climbed into the back of the pickup and pushed the window open. It was less than a foot on each side, wider than it was high, but I thought I could reach through it and pull the keys from the ignition. I stuck my arm through, but the pickup was an extended cab, and my hand was nowhere near the keys. I pushed my head through with my arm, and still my reach was more than a foot from the keys. To have any chance of reaching them, I had to get through to at least my waist.
I took off my coat and set it on the side of the truck, shivering in the below zero temperature. I then stuck both arms through the window, which left little room for my head. By laying my head flat between my arms, I was barely able to get it through into the pickup. By wiggling and squirming, I was able to get my shoulders through, but that was as far as I could go. I could not get my midsection through the window. I was far enough in that the keys dangled at my fingertips, but I might as well have been a mile away. I could push in no further, and I knew trying was futile. It was time to give up on this plan.
I started to back out, but then my clothes hooked on the edge of the window. I tried to tuck them around me, but it was to no avail. No matter how I tried, I could not get out of the window. The cab was overly warm, and my top half was sweating even as my lower half was freezing. I struggled for around fifteen minutes to no avail, and I thought I was going to be stuck there until one of my colleagues found me the next morning. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. At least that’s what I thought until I saw the blue and red flashing lights pull up behind me.
A flashlight suddenly blinded me through the window. “All right,” a voice commanded, “come out with your hands up!”
“If I could come out, don’t you think I would have already?” I asked.
Another flashlight shown in from the other side. Then a smart-alecky voice spoke in a horrible English accent. “Holmes, I do say. I think he’s stuck.”
I almost said, “Great deduction, genius,” but I refrained.
Eventually, they used a flat piece of metal to unlock the door. With one on the inside and one on the outside, they helped me get free. But then came the questions. They had received a report of someone trying to steal a pickup. What was I doing trying to break into it?
I told my story, and the fact it was locked and running was evidence in my favor. Eventually, they let me get the pickup registration and show them my I.D.
Just before they left, one officer said, “You should realize you’re too. . .” He paused, then continued, “uh, big, to get through that window.”
“Go ahead and say, it,” I said. “The word is fat.”
He struggled to keep a straight face. “I didn’t say that.”
Then he and his partner laughed as they headed to their patrol car.
He didn’t have to say it. I already knew.