You know what’s not more fun that going to opening night at the drive-in? Smashing the back window of your car to get to your dogs and crying baby locked inside.

Allow me to share some of the lessons I learned (in hindsight) from our Friday night shenanigans.

First, a little back story: The wife and I each have our own car and our own set of keys. We also have a backup set of keys for each that we keep on-hand in case of emergencies. About a month ago we had a garage sale and somehow the spare set for her car was misplaced. (We searched everywhere we could think to find them, but I had accepted the fact that they had probably ended up inside something that was put in a give away box and taken to Goodwill.).

The aggravating part about this is that the conversation of, “Wow, we really need to go get another key made,” happened at least five times in the past few weeks. But I had just been too lazy to do it, that and I still had a glimmer of hope that the missing keys would surface.

Fast forward to Friday night: We had decided to go to opening night at the Holiday Twin Drive-In. We packed our two corgis in their travel crates and put them in the back of my wife’s car, we loaded some snacks and blankets in the back seat, and packed our daughter in her car seat with some extra warm blankets for her big outing and (hopefully) movie-length nap. We were just about ready to go when I asked, “Do you have the keys?”

My wife, who was sitting in the passenger seat, pulled them out of her purse and tossed them in the driver’s seat. She hopped out to put her coat in the back, and I went inside to grab a soda.

Fate, as it turns out, had plans other than us seeing a movie that night. When the wife tossed the keys they must had landed just right to engage the ‘lock’ button. When she went to put her coat in the back the rear hatch was locked. This was about the time I returned to the garage, and I tried opening the front door. Then the back door. Then the trunk.


That feeling you have when you get to the airport and suddenly realize you left the oven or a curling iron on. That’s kind of what it was like, only multiplied about a hundred-fold.

Here we were new parents who had just locked our dogs and our newborn inside our car along with the only set of keys we had.

Right on cue, a very unhappy, “wah wahhh,” started coming from the infant car seat inside.

The word ‘panic’ doesn’t even quite cover what erupted in both of us, and I’m pretty sure it cut of any higher levels of thinking in our brains. The wife was flipping out, her primal instinct had taken over, and I knew if I didn’t do something that she would have her hands bloodied up trying to claw her way in to the car if the baby's crying kept up.

I grabbed a crowbar. (What can’t be fixed with a crowbar, right?)

Let’s just say that trying to pop the back hatch window of an SUV is harder than it looks on TV. I had pulled and pushed and yanked, but all I had done was bend the back window hatch out about 3 inches on one side. It felt like hours had passed (but it was probably like three-minutes). I gave one more hard yank to the crowbar and….boom.

Did you know that when safety glass breaks, it doesn’t just crack, it basically explodes?

Thousands of rounded pieces of safety glass erupted all over me and all over my driveway and garage (it probably scared the heck out of the dogs that were in crates just inches below the glass).

Then I tried to dive through the back window to unlock the door. I think the shattered window had broken the spell of primal terror in my wife who then pointed out that I was never going to fit through the window. She pulled me back and climbed through the window herself to get to the baby and unlock the doors.


After we’d had a few minutes to decompress, the arduous task of cleaning up all the glass began. (Fun Fact: Safety glass is not razor sharp but it can, in fact, draw blood.)

The good new; baby was fine, the dogs were fine, I had a few nicks on my hands but was otherwise unscathed, and the back window was replaceable.

Now, in hindsight, there are a lot of things we could have done differently:

  • We could have called the police or the fire department. (Or in our case, walk down the street as a number of police officers live on our block)
  • Called a locksmith
  • Broken the driver’s side window (which I am assuming would have been cheaper to fix)
  • Just broken a window instead of bending the lock mechanism by trying to pry the hatch open first

I’m sure there are other, smarter things we could have done. Frankly, I’d rather not hear about them now.

Needless to say, we saw no drive in move that night.

After shelling out over $300 to have the back window replaced on Saturday morning and took the car in to adjust the back lock to get it working again.

Things like this are supposed to ‘build character,’ right?

Now here come the really asinine part:

We were packing up for a trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens on Monday morning. While I was packing our stroller I flipped it over to unlock the wheel and heard a 'clink-clink.'

Guess what had fallen in the folds of the stroller, only to fall out when I flipped it over?

The spare keys we hadn’t seen for a month.

Well played irony.

Well played.