The summer after my freshman year of college I headed back home to live with my parents and work.  So there I was working the Saturday daytime mall shift offering “complementary valet”…

If you’ve never valeted before, let me set the scene:  You pull up in your dirty mall-attending Grand Caravan, leave the keys in the car(avan), and get handed half of a voucher.  I then drive your swagger wagon out into the mall lot (which you could have done yourself), then I attach your key to the other half of the voucher and write the car description and parking spot.  It’s not rocket science but these are important details for what I’m about to describe next.

At some point that day it got super busy.  Cars were pulling up to get parked at the same time people were coming out to claim their cars. This is a good time to point out that I hate lines and I hate inconveniencing people.  I was stressed out!

At this point the next guy in line handed me his voucher.  I frantically searched for his key but couldn’t find it.  Finally, I found it.  A single key with a blank voucher that matched his number.  He noticed my confusion and said, “It’s a Nissan Sentra”.  And with that I was gone!

I sprinted through the mall parking lot scrambling to locate his car.  As I ran around scanning the rows of cars my mind was running twice as fast.  Sentra?  Where the —- is this thing?  I bet everyone is getting mad.  If he had a remote this would be simple—Ah-ha!  SENTRA!

I put the key in, unlocked it, cranked it and quickly started pulling out towards the valet station!  To this day I still vividly remember how awkward the car felt as I drove it through the parking lot.

I pulled up and waved for the guy but he just stood there and gave me a strange half smile and said, “My car is about 10 years newer than that!  And it’s red!”

That’s right.  Somehow his key worked on this older, stolen-er, Nissan Sentra!

I did eventually find his car but my wife’s favorite part of this story is when I explain how I had to re-park the stolen car in a different parking spot!  Talk about some confusion for that guy!