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Michael Perry: We're about to send people to Mars, but still lock ourselves out of cars

Michael Perry: We're about to send people to Mars, but still lock ourselves out of cars

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Last week I received a mysterious call from a friend. His voice was animated but distant, as if he was hollering from inside a barrel, possibly while rolling around in the back of a truck.




I kept saying his name and saying I could hear him, but he clearly couldn’t hear me.

There followed silence and what sounded like more clunking.

Then I heard his voice again, still muffled and as if from a distance. Now he was yelling, “Hey Siri! Hey Siri! Hey Siri!”

“I can hear you,” I said. “Can you hear me?”

“Hey Siri!”

Then we disconnected.

I’m generally slow to alarm, but I was immediately uneasy. I knew this particular friend was on a three-day solo drive through a remote part of the West. He is also a tech whiz with a calm demeanor. Not the sort of fellow to go around helplessly yelling at his handset. I wondered if he was lying injured some distance from his phone. Or if he had been abducted.

I dialed him twice and both calls went straight to voicemail. So I sent him two texts and an email, pasting the same message into each in the hopes one might get through: “got phone call from you then disconnected and heard you talking to Siri just checking yr OK.”

Just then I got a text from an unfamiliar number: “Yo! This is (me).” (He used his name — I won’t.)

“Ah, good,” I texted with relief.

He replied: “Do you still have my car app?”

Well over a year ago I borrowed his vehicle. It’s one of those new ones that comes with its own app, and I had downloaded it to my phone. I checked, and sure enough, buried several screens deep beside the Yatzy, there it was.

I confirmed, and he texted back: “can you log in and unlock my car?”

And so it was, from a distance of 2,102 miles and three time zones, I tapped my phone, and shortly thereafter received a text from what was now obviously a phone he’d borrowed from a stranger: “he’s in.”

“Dude,” I texted back, “I feel like we just landed on Mars.”

“It’s a shining moment in human progress,” he replied. Then, “Holy cow that was a cluster****. Car key, phone, and Apple Watch, all locked in the car.”

He thanked me then, and we both prepared to go about our day. But then I got to thinking and texted him again: “Wait a minute … WERE YOU YELLING AT SIRI THROUGH THE WINDOW!?!?”

“LIKE A MAD MAN,” he replied.

As of this writing he is safely back home but we have yet to speak in person. I have exceptionally high hopes for the reenactment.

An original “Roughneck Grace” column exclusive to the Wisconsin State Journal. Audio versions may air on “Tent Show Radio” ( Read more from Michael Perry at

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