I often used to lose my car keys. I’d shuffle around the house in search of them. Cindy, the brains of the outfit, would be in the car, waiting. Then she’d return to the house.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m looking for the car keys.”
She’d tell me she had a key. We could use hers. No, I insisted. I had to have to my own key. Maybe I’d throw in a tantrum or two.
I rarely got high marks for maturity.
I have to pause here, in any case. In truth, we no longer have car keys. We have fobs. Cars no longer start with keys, unless they were built before the last ice age.
A fob has buttons to unlock the car. There’s no ignition switch for it. You just carry it to the car and push a button on the dash. The car starts.
We got our fobs with the Prius we bought some four or five years ago. Before that, we had Saturns that relied on old key-in-the-ignition technology. Even then, our young daughter thought all cars had fobs. All her friends had cars with fobs. Surely, we did, too.
I broke the news to her one day in a parking lot. We had finished a hike and Sarah ran up to the car, ahead of me. She pulled the handle. The car was locked. She asked me why I didn’t just unlock it with the beeper.
I told her we didn’t have a beeper. Just a key. And, if we’re lucky, it’ll start the car.
It was kind of embarrassing to have to tell my young daughter we did not have fob technology.
Now I have a fob, even if I still call it a key. My fob had one thing in common with the old key. I’d still lose it. And Cindy would grow impatient as I wandered from room to room, muttering “Nope, not here.”
Then she’d look under the sock.
That was before Christmas, before she gave me a present that would make her life so much easier. A chip that I could put on my key ring. Now I push a button on my phone and the chip plays a chirpy little melody. It’s like the kids game of hot and cold.
If the melody gets fainter, I think: “Colder, colder.” If it gets louder, I think: “Warmer, warmer.” Then: “Hot, hot, hot! I’m really close!” And there it is, in Cindy’s hand. She found it under the sock.
OK, one time it took a little longer. I had to find my phone first.
I think finder-chips will one day outgrow the simple electronic melody. Baseball players will have chips play their walk-on music. That’s the music blared on loudspeakers as the hitter knocks the weighted doughnut off the bat and approaches the plate. It’s usually uplifting, triumphant.
There are plenty of sad songs available. But they don’t play them after a batter strikes out.
In the future, my chip might work with Ed, my computerized answer to Alexa and Siri. I’d push the button on my phone. I’d follow Ed’s voice: “No, no, no, over here, you idiot! Under the sock.”
Finder-chip technology, of course, is not new. Cops have long been slapping finder-chips on the cars of suspected bad guys.
Here’s a case I read about in a newsletter my wife gets daily from the State Bar. A guy in Indiana spotted and removed a GPS finder-chip cops put on his car. The cops charged him with theft and got a warrant to search for it. They found drugs, too. The state Supreme Court suppressed the evidence. Apparently taking a finder chip off your own car isn’t theft.
You can get GPS tracking chips for dogs and cats. They go on the collar. We have one pet now, Maggie the Shih Tzu. She has a microchip you wave a wand over. It tells you who to call if she’s lost. But you’d have to find her first. If she goes missing, it usually means she’s crawled under the covers.
I can see finder-chips for other things I commonly lose. I have two watches. I bought a second one because I couldn’t find the first. They’re the same brand, same price: $20. I’ve since lost the second one.
With a finder chip, I’d never lose a watch again. Once I found a watch to put it on.
Sometimes Cindy needs my help fixing one of her looms. She weaves a lot. But the looms are temperamental and need occasional maintenance. I have tools, if only I could find them.
Chips would help. One for the hammer. One for a screwdriver. And one for me, in case I go hiding.