I’m no carpenter, but I know when I’ve been screwed. And this royal screwing took place on a father-son bonding trip to a burger shop this summer.

I have the habit of taking off my slippers while I’m outside. So while my dad parks the car and exits, I’m trying to put my flip flops on. After a ten second struggle, I gave my routine pep talk: “alright Haaris, push that chest out. Keep your head up. Walk in like you own the place.” And with confidence that would shake Mr. Creighton, I grabbed the car handle and pulled as if it were King Arthur’s Excalibur.

Nothing. The car was locked from the inside. Instinctively, I pressed the unlock button inside the car to let myself free.


“Hahaha, well this blows. No worries, I’ll just honk the horn. That’ll get someone’s attention, hopefully dad’s.”

Yet, as I pressed my sweaty palm on the horn repeatedly, those who could see/hear me paid no attention. I rolled down my windows and asked for someone to help a brother out, but either no one heard me or no one wanted to hear me. I could have sworn I saw a mom tell her daughter “this is why you have to go to school” as she pointed to me. Maybe I was hallucinating.

Now the weather outside felt like a barren desert: I was starting to sweat a bit. As I wiped my forehead, I remembered that I had my phone onhand. A call to my dad would put all this to rest. I took out my phone, dialed his number, and…

No response. I redialed three more times before I gave up. I called my mother: she left her phone in the car; I called my brother: he was busy playing Call of Duty; I called the home phone: no one was answering.

To make matters even worse, the car alarm went off. Not once. Not twice. Three times. The screeching sounds gave me a headache in the midst of heat exhaustion. Bystanders still managed to ignore the situation, and my father was still nowhere to be seen. Embarrassment, fear, and hopelessness should have been swarming in my mind. But they weren’t.

Despite the severity of the situation, despite the fact that I was facing a life-or-death crisis, I remember grinning the entire time. For some reason, whether I found this entire situation amusing, whether I found this challenge exciting, or whether I was just reaching the point of insanity, I could not help but laugh to myself as I searched for possible escape routes.

Eventually, my dad did come out and apologize for the entire situation. But that one situation revealed more about me that no other incident could. Where most people would have freaked out, I was laughing. Perhaps this says I am an easygoing guy that underestimates the danger of situation, or perhaps that I am a guy who enjoys a life-or-death challenge. I still don’t know the answers, and though I prefer not to think about the entire ordeal, I’ll admit that it had a significant influence on my life. As I live on, I hope more situations like that one can unveil something hidden about myself, something I don’t know for certain yet. But I did learn one thing in that sweat-drenched car: don’t ever forget that a door can be manually unlocked.