We Gave, the RR Gave: When Navy ships like the USS Ronald Reagan visit, wonderful and strange things happen.
First, the wonderful: A woman was seen handing out envelopes containing $50 in cash to sailors on the street. When a group of sailors ran up a $2,100 bill at a restaurant, another woman picked up the entire tab, according to Sister Christine Bowman of the Santa Barbara Navy League.
“A cruise down State Street saw area residents honking and waving to the sailors walking down the main drag. The sailors were really ‘coming home.’ The city warmly welcomed the visiting crew into their hearts and homes. Several were guests of our residents for meals, accommodations and the like. Area churches and synagogues invited the sailors for worship services. The sailors performed community service projects such as graffiti removal and visiting children at Cottage Hospital.”
And the Strange: My neighbor, Paul Krieger, had a problem. “I thought I was in the Twilight Zone for awhile,” he told me. This is his story:
“Turning left onto Rosemary Lane, as I have done for years, I approached my driveway pressing the nifty Homelink [garage door opener] button on my Toyota Prius’s rear-view mirror. Nothing happened. My garage door did not begin to open, as it had always done – a step in coming home as routine as closing the house door. I pressed the Homelink repeatedly. Nothing. As a backup, I always carry a standard garage door opener. I tried it and still no response. Then I exited my car, walked in the front door to the garage, pushing the mounted garage door opener wall button. The door went up fine. After some time checking the batteries of our three garage door openers, I found them all to be fully charged, but none worked. So what was the problem?
I decided to try the Prius’s Homelink again. So I pulled out my Prius remote key in order to open the car door. No response. My Prius doors would not open. Uhhh, now my remote key was not working. On the Prius remote key I tried the ‘unlock’ icon, then the ‘lock’ icon, then the panic button. I also tried the special Prius ‘smart’ lock buttons, which are located on every door. Nothing worked. Hmmmm. Maybe the batteries are bad? I checked the batteries of both remote keys. The Batteries were OK. Homelink does not work, the garage door openers do not work, the remote keys do not work, the ‘smart’ locks do not work. But I can open the garage door using the wall button, which is hooked up directly to an electrical power wire.
I tried everything again multiple times. No response. I could open my garage door using the wall button, but now my Prius was locked. Then I remembered that the Prius remote key comes with a standard ‘pull out’ key, attached specifically for emergencies. I opened the car door, but then a series of beeps sounded. Then I discovered that my remote key was now working, as well as the ‘smart’ lock buttons. I checked to see if the garage door openers were working. No response whatsoever. Now what?
I waited a few minutes, did some things inside the house, and returned to my car. Everything worked, except the garage door openers. So I left the house to run an errand to Smart & Final. After parking, I tried to lock the car door. No response. Again, nothing was working. In fact, my car doors locked (seemingly) of their own volition. I tried to unlock the doors and couldn’t. I was locked out of my Prius. Unfortunately, my cell phone was in the front seat, so I could not call for help. As I walked away from the Prius to find a pay phone I heard a series of peeps. Walking back to check this out, I discovered that all of the doors were unlocked and once again my key remotes worked.
Back at home, nothing worked. This was Saturday. On Sunday I was able to drive using the manual emergency key to lock and unlock the car. As I drove on to Rosemary Lane a neighbor, Chuck Williams, revealed the cause of my problems.
“Oh, I know what the problem is!” he said.
“It’s the Ronald Reagan,” he explained. “They take over all of the frequencies while they’re here.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yep, it happens every time the Navy arrives in a big ship.”
I drove off, dumbfounded. Well, nothing worked all weekend. Or, I should say, nothing worked properly all weekend, and by Monday morning I was seriously beginning to believe in ghosts. Then I made calls to Toyota and Consolidated Garage Doors. Toyota said that they knew nothing about a ship’s effect on the Prius. But Consolidated said, “Oh, yes, we’ve gotten dozens of calls about garage door remotes not working. Please wait a couple of hours after the Ronald Reagan leaves this afternoon, and if you’re still having trouble, call back.”
By 3:30 p.m. Monday, all garage door openers worked and all Prius remotes worked perfectly. Everything was back to normal. My neighbor was right. I still don’t believe in ghosts, but I now understand the lingering power of Ronald Reagan.”
Barney Brantingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.