The War on Tumblers

Published October 2020

About once a week I walk up to my car. Key in pocket, I pull on the door handle. But it doesn’t open.

This is my other car. My older car. The one where I have to press a button on a fob to disengage the locks.

Nobody notices, but I blush embarrassment. How accustom I’ve become to my minivan’s keyless entry. And ignition, at that.

My college car didn’t wage this war on tumblers. I had to pull the key out of my pocket, insert, and turn anti-clockwise to unlock. Lift the handle for entry. Then another key insertion, this time rotating clockwise on the YZ plane. Drive.


I remember lifting the handle. Turning clockwise. One, two, seven times.

The rotary phone on my parent’s bedside table. Yellow. 10 single digits. A novelty compared to the corded touch tone in the living room. That olympic pool length of slinky-wrapped-in-plastic could reach to the bedroom if necessary.

Then one day they were gone. The cord need not run the length of our ranch layout. The wireless phone provided freedom from both, and into any room, with no risk of pinching the cords into replacement.

I can still feel the tactile feedback of that rotary phone. The cadence of the dial returning to rest. Dialing six numbers, then hanging up. Not out of cowardice. Just for the fun of movable parts.


Tumblers giving way to buttons.
Cords to waves.
Touch to proximity.
Attachments for mobility.

My keys will be a remnant of dad’s generation.
They’ll jingle’m to hear the fading sounds of childhood.
Turning over thoughts.
Starting something new.