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Tulsa World, Okla., Jay Cronley column: Sad story of a Saab and its fob
[August 16, 2009]

Tulsa World, Okla., Jay Cronley column: Sad story of a Saab and its fob

Aug 16, 2009 (Tulsa World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- This is the first of what could be something like a 25-part series about the $1,000 key -- the story is that shocking.

It's not the key to the mint, not a key to success, not a key to happiness. It's a key to a car, a Saab. Actually it's not an ignition key in the traditional sense. It's a hard rubber fob that fits into a hole near the console. Inside the fob is a computer that runs the car -- starts it, stops it, handles the trunk and doors.

A peek inside: You can easily imagine the design meeting that took place in Sweden.

"OK, let's get down to business. How are we going to squeeze every single dime out of our loyal customers?" "How about we run news headlines across the bottom of the inside rear-view mirror?" "Terrible." "We could put an outside headlight on the right-side passenger door for scenic nighttime motoring." "Horrible." "We could convert the glove compartment into an ice box." "Pitiful." "We make the key a computer. Everybody loses keys. This computer fob would be so fat, you couldn't put it on a key ring. It would be like trying to carry around a miniature Mac in your pocket. Irreplaceable single ignition fobs would fall into weed and briar patches around the world. Charge a grand to replace the computerized fob and new program!" "Brilliant!" "Genius." "Inspired." "Somebody call up the fish eggs and champagne." Out a grand: Imagine losing a thousand-dollar bill.

First you panic, full out.

Then you really start moving around, looking under sofas five times, 10 times, 30; looking in the refrigerator for the key, behind the juice carton; looking in the coffee pot; looking in a big box taped shut at the back of a closet, as though Penn and Teller might have floated the fob there; reaching into the garbage disposal; looking in socks, shoes, coffee cups half-full.

Then it's obvious.

It's in the yard, the key thing, has to be, somewhere in the five mile's worth of thick and dense layered ivy knee-deep almost to a stilt-walker; hello spiders, thanks for the bite.

What must the neighbors think, a madman on his hands and knees at all hours, in the underbrush over his head, flashlights flickering, steaming coffee nearby at 6 a.m.: "He's digging and rooting around like crazy again but he's not planting or removing anything. Think we should call a cop?" Then it's over. The key fob is officially lost.

The computer key system is designed as a high-quality anti-theft mechanism.

But you can insure against theft, not key fobs vanishing in mid-air.

Designing computers that go in your pocket and are used to start the engine -- not the best way to treat people who like the car.

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