Mistaken identity


Can you remember the days before remote locking? You actually had to unlock the front doors individually, but these days you push the button, it responds with a beep-beep and unlocks everything!

Have you ever done this? It was 1987 and MG Rover in the UK loaned me a top of the line Rover 825i. It came with remote locking with the infra-red remote receiver behind the internal rear vision mirror.

I had gone for lunch and afterwards ventured outside into the crisp, cold British air and strolled down towards the Rover 825i in the car park. As I walked towards it, I pushed the unlock button, but nothing happened. No beep-beep and flashing lights. Obviously I was too far away, so I walked closer and pushed the magic button again. Still nothing!

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By now I had arrived at the car and carefully inspected the remote locking device on the key ring, making sure I was really pushing the right magic button. Nothing!

It was then I remembered the IR receiver was behind the interior rear vision mirror. Looking through the windscreen I could even see it, a red bulb behind the mirror. I pointed the remote at the red bulb and expectantly pressed the button. Nothing!

I laid down on the bonnet of the car, so that I could get the remote on the windscreen, as close as possible to the red bulb receiver. With a determined thumb I pressed the button – and still nothing. I tried again, and again and yet this Rover refused to open its doors.

Suddenly I heard this very British voice saying, “I say old chap, just what do you think you are doing?” I turned round and there was the archetypal Briton, cap and tweed jacket, and bristling with anger. “I am trying to open my car, but the remote unlocking device does not work,” I replied. “That’s because this is not your car, this is my car,” said crusty and now angry Brit. “No it’s not,” said I. “I have this silver Rover 825i on loan from MG Rover!” “I beg your pardon,” said crusty, angry, “this is MY silver Rover 825i that I bought from the agents here!” We were now standing toe to toe and I could see I would need the registration papers to prove my point – but the registration papers, of course, were inside the locked car.

However, before I could think of my next move, to really rub my nose in it, and to verify his claim, he went on to say, “Your Rover is the one further down the car park, in the next line!” I looked at where he was pointing, and there it was. I pointed the remote, pushed and it beeped and flashed the lights. With burning shame, I could only apologize profusely and offer him a warm beer. He declined, muttering something about the fact that he was still sober and knew what he was doing. I could not miss the inference, but decided that I had had enough of this scenario and slunk off to my Rover and got in, trying to forget the case of mistaken identity.