Dear Tom and Ray:
I was trying to get into my dad's car, which was locked, and I didn't have the key. My younger brother told me to pick the lock. So I put a piece of wood in the lock, and it broke off. And now we can't use the key in the lock. My dad says I have to pay for someone to fix it unless I can figure out a way to get it out of there. Do you have any suggestions? I am 13 and don't have a job, so I really need your help. -- Spencer
TOM: Oh, Spencer. I hope that at the very least, you've learned one of life's most important lessons: Never listen to your younger brother about anything!
RAY: My brother's just still miffed about the time I convinced him that he could get rid of his zits by painting them with a laundry marker.
TOM: I'm not sure I really have any good ideas for you, Spencer. I assume you've tried to fit a pair of tweezers in there. But the key slot is really too small for you to be able to use them, even if they do go in.
RAY: Well, the solution is obvious to me: fire. Wood burns, right? You need to stick a lit match in the keyhole, and ignite the piece of wood. It'll burn up, turn to ash, and the problem will be solved.
TOM: Spencer, if you saw how mad your father was when he found out about the wood, just imagine how he's going to react when he finds his entire car burnt to a crisp. Don't listen to my brother, Spencer! He's a younger brother, remember?
RAY: All right, here's another idea. Get a long pin. Using needle-noise pliers, bend the tip of it 90 degrees. Then try to stick the end of the pin into the piece of wood, and fish it out that way. Or, you might try going to the drugstore and getting a dental tool that has a point on the end. If the shaft is thin enough, it'll be a stronger version of the pin-tool.
TOM: Well, you can try it, Spencer, but I suspect, in the end, you're going to have to call a locksmith. It'll cost you $50, which you'll have to work off by mowing lawns.
RAY: Or just break into your father's wall safe and take the money. You can break in using a piece of wood, you know.
TOM: Spencer, go out and earn the money and get the lock fixed. And consider it a small price to pay for an important lesson about brotherly advice.