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Article: Keys, What are they good for? --- Sayin' goodbye to the ignition key

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Keys, what are they good for?
I’m all for technology, especially any technology that makes life easier. Like keyless entry and push button starting systems, just to name a few. As we move further into the ever advancing technology, certain things of mechanical nature will be lost to electronics. Fewer cars are being manufactured that still have keys. Some only have a key fob and no metal or brass back up key at all, and soon you won’t even need those key fobs either. Everything will be programmed and controlled by your smart phone. Yep, one more thing the smart phone has taken over.

What about the poor old lonely key? I guess it’s gone the way of the bench seat and wing windows. Instead of a polished piece of brass, with its saw toothed notches, the key is being replaced by a bits of plastic and a few microchips.

Before the car key fades off into distant memory into the archives of a forgotten age, and ending up under glass cases as some museum attraction, I’d like to salute our faithful old friend, the key, for all the things it has done for us.

We’ve reached a stage in technology that the simple act of turning a mechanical lock can been replaced by RF signals and a few electrons. Though the versatile car key has done so much more for us than turning locks. Oh sure, you can say the same thing about your smart phone, but can a smart phone, or one of those funny looking key fobs, double as a bottle opener? Probably not. Then again, a key might poke ya in your pocket, but it can’t butt dial your ex-girlfriend.

Who hasn’t used their keys to dig in their ears, or used it to scratch an itch? I can’t imagine using a key fob to tighten a loose screw, but the good old key always came in handy for that. You could use a key to pry the lid off a paint can or scrape the ick out of the crevices of a console, and it came in handy for digging out that stuck change in the vending machines, too. Let’s not forget to mention the key’s sidekicks, you know, all those dangly items that people attach to their key rings that do nothing more than weigh them down. Where are all those things going to go now? No keys, no key ring, no more dangly whatchamacallits for the mechanic to sort through to find the ignition key. I don’t think you’re going to attach them to the side of your cell phone any time soon.

Of course, there is one thing that a lot of people would love to see disappear: those nasty scrape marks left when somebody keys your car. I seriously doubt anyone would try to drag a cell phone across a car in the hopes of creating the same degree of damage. Most likely the cell phone would end up with just as many scrape marks as the car would. I guess that’s justice in a way.
Now of course, a key will eventually wear out, but so does the phone. The key can be recopied, but the copy is only as good as what it’s copied from. When a phone wears out or is damage, there’s a possibility of never retrieving all the information stored in it. One of those bits of data might be your cars security coding. Awe, shucks, looks like a trip to the dealer for you. At least with a key ya might have been able to jiggle, wiggle and eventually get it to start the car. You can jiggle and wiggle that phone all you want, but I don’t think it’s going to help.

I don’t want to leave out the bulbous key fobs that a lot of the imports have gone to either. However, when it comes to these key fobs, I can’t think of any suitable second purpose they’ll ever have in their lifetime. Not like the humble key with its thousands and thousands of uses. Sure, the smart phone has thousands of uses, but when the key breaks off in the lock you’re just locked out. When your smart phone locks you out, you’re locked out of everything.

Thinking back to my high school days I can remember using a car key to carve my name in the gym’s pay phone booth, (Yep, a real wooden pay phone booth. Mine wasn’t the only name scratched into those old wooden panels, generations of names were in there). Who would have ever thought that in the future a phone booth and your keys would both fit into your shirt pocket. Hard to believe, ain’t it? I kind of miss the squeak of the door and how the light would flicker on and off just before it would finally give off its dim fluorescent glow. It wasn’t a whole lot of light, but you could read the names in the phone book with it easily enough. These days ya just reach for your smart phone and turn the flashlight feature on. Oh, phone books? It’s in the smart phone already. Not quite the same nostalgic atmosphere as the old phone booth though.

While being around for decades, the humble key was far more useful than just for starting the car. I’m sure it won’t entirely go away, but for the car, it might be on its last turn of the lock. No more bar fights with a car key as a weapon, no more of the traditional tossing of the keys when your teenager gets their first car, and no more making a spare copy of grandma’s car keys just in case she can’t remember where she put them. All that will soon be history, a last turn of the lock; now just push a button. Throw away the key, because it just won’t be needed anymore. I say, “Long Live the Key”. I know what it’s good for.

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