I met my husband Tom in Sacramento, California. We lived together for quite awhile before we were married, and one of the places we stayed was Del Paso Heights, a suburb of Sacramento. We lived in the front half of a duplex.
Tom has always been fascinated by electronics, and has quite a talent for working with them. For awhile after we met, he had toyed with the idea of designing a car that a drunk driver couldn’t operate. It sounded like a feasible idea, and we decided that he could experiment on our old Datsun station wagon.
The premise of his idea was simple. The engine would have to be started by flipping a complex series of toggle switches in a particular sequence and then pressing a concealed button. A drunk driver would never be coherent enough to flip the switches in the correct order. This would prevent the driver from injuring himself and other innocent bystanders. The idea sounded to me like something out of "Batman and Robin", but I’m more open-minded than many women are, open to exploring new ideas. I decided to let him work the ignition system in the station wagon to see if his theory would work.
It did. From the day that Tom installed the toggle switches and the concealed starter button, he never had any problem starting the car, because HE knew the combination to ignite the motor. Well, the car thieves in our neighborhood didn’t have that advantage.
One night, at about two o’ clock in the morning, I woke to the sight of our headlights blazing through the blinds in our bedroom window. I shook Tom awake. Someone was up to no good, and we were going to get a good look. We quietly tiptoed to the blinds and watched a would-be car thief try to steal the station wagon.
He had the headllights working.
The radio was blasting, too. If he had had any brains, he would have known not to announce his presence that way and wake up his sleeping victims.
The windshield wipers worked. They were moving back and forth across the perfectly dry windshield.
Tom and I looked at each other, trying to stifle a laugh. The thief had no idea that we were watching him. We saw him fool with the toggle switches on the dashboard, but he had no idea what the proper combination was, and the ignition button was actually hidden in a secret spot underneath the gear shift. The poor guy didn’t know that.
There was plenty of time to call the police if we needed to. For now, it was a lot of fun to just watch this experienced car thief match wits with Tom’s electronic genius! He worked on the toggle switches for fifteen minutes, never coming NEAR the actual combination, and he had NO idea about the ignition button. After about twenty minutes, Tom and I laughed as he turned the radio off, killed the headlights, stopped the windshield wipers, and stepped out of the station wagon in utter defeat. We knew that soon he would be the laughing stock of Sacrmento car thieves!
We went back to bed that night with a delicious feeling of satisfaction. Tom’s idea had worked! Not only did it prevent drunk drivers from operating motor vehicles, it stopped would-be car thieves dead in their tracks! He’d think TWICE next time he tried to steal OUR car!
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