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Key fob: A small electronic security device with built-in authentication protocols or mechanisms to allow whoever possesses it to enter a secured network to access data or services. — Techopedia

When the black Mercedes-Benz pulled into our driveway, I did a double-take.

None of our friends or relatives drives the famous luxury brand.

In coming days, however, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about a model that is common in California but fairly rare in South Dakota.

Our middle daughter and her family decided to rent a car in Los Angeles and drive home for a late summer vacation. With two children the air fare adds up, so driving made sense. That’s when the unraveling began. The first rental car went bad in Burbank; the second in Colorado; the third in Wyoming, where the rental company must have decided that an upgrade to a Mercedes would solve all problems.

Which it did, except for human error. Whose? Hard to say. This tale is about a misplaced key fob. Funny thing about the Mercedes. It wouldn’t budge without the fob. And so it sat in our driveway, rental clock ticking, blocking my car in the garage to boot.

Where could the fob have gone? We searched the house, the garage, the car itself, garment pockets, purses, and every nook and cranny. Then we started to retrace where the car had been on a shopping trip, since it would start and run even if the key fob had been dropped outside the car door while entering.

We called the police, and checked with businesses and lost and found.


And so the car sat, its chrome grillwork smirking.

Mercedes will produce a duplicate key, but not with just a VIN number. The car itself must be transported to a dealership. In this case, 350 miles to Sioux Falls or Loveland, Co.  At $4 a mile, it was going to be a $1,500 charge either way. Plus $500 for the key and programming.

Enter Brian Klock to the rescue. Our daughter called her friend of Klock Werks in Mitchell for ideas on dealing with the problem. One solution, he said, would be for him to load the car and transport it to Sioux Falls since he was going to be in the Hills anyhow to pick up a motorcycle for customizing.

Loading the Mercedes locked in park was also something to watch – a two-hour project – but a successful one. Then a trip across South Dakota to pick up the recalcitrant rental car that was in our driveway a few days before.

Life is an adventure. I’m not blaming Mercedes.  The car company didn’t lose the key.

Oct. 3, 2018