This is how Pandora would feel if she had gone into the newspaper business instead of the box business.

In last Wednesday's column, Mrs. Levey's oldest son (who bears no resemblance to Pandora) told of locking himself out of his car a few weeks earlier.

The car in question is equipped with power door locks. If you're not familiar with these, they are the perfect invention for the hurried 1980s.

An electric switch is mounted on the driver's side door. One quick little ZWAAAAT, and all four doors are locked (or unlocked). No more straining to reach four buttons every time you park. A tenth of a second, and you're done.

Unfortunately, power door locks are utterly unforgiving of yo-yos like me who insist on leaving the keys inside the car, then pushing LOCK, then closing the door.

At least I was relatively lucky when it happened to me. My wife was in the same area code. I called her. She came and bailed me out of my own idiocy. Didn't even rub it in. Well, not too much.

Which made me think: There must be a way to open a power door-locked car other than phoning the woman you married. I asked the readership for help, and waited for illumination.

I knew I was in trouble when I called the Post's message center early the morning the column ran.

"Who needs me beside you, darling?" I merrily asked, as I always do, of operator Joyce Taylor.

"Levey, you better not come anywhere near me today," Joyce said. She sounded homicidal.

"Why, love?" I asked. "You know my heart pines only for you. You know you're the only woman who makes the sun shine. You know . . . ."

"Cut it out, Levey," she said. "These people are driving me crazy!"

I was going to ask Joyce if she'd ever say that to a VIP like Pandora. But I could tell by her tone of voice that this was not a day to be a wise guy -- not within a few miles of her desk, anyway.

By midday, more than 200 of you had called (and Joyce had taken messages from most of you). By midday the next day, the total was more than 400.

One comfort in those numbers is that I am not the only ignoramus to have locked himself out of his car. The other comfort is that so many of you had so much good advice. Here's the best of it:

Jackie Rooney of Oakton: "Reach inside with a coat hanger and hook the door handle." That won't work on every car, and not everyone is dexterous enough to bring it off. But, yes, that's always an option, even on a power-locked car.

Christina Fitz of Arlington: "Call Red Top Cab. I did it on a Sunday morning at 10 a.m. They were right there. They used some sort of jimmy stick (see below)." Red Top charges $10 to burst into your car, but when you're talking about undoing major yo-yo-ism, $10 is cheap.

Irwin Rosenthal of Rockville: "It never would have happened to me. I've carried a spare key in my wallet since 1953."

Barbara Armiger of Wheaton: "It happened to a friend. She taped a key to the back of her driver's license. Hasn't happened since." By the way, Barbara told me I'm "too young to be absent-minded." Tell that to my power locks, Barbara. They'll howl.

Brian Whitmore, an auto parts dealer in Lanham: "Buy a Slim Jim. It's a thin metal rod. You slide it down alongside the window and free up the locking device. We sell them for $8." And they sell them to anyone, folks -- on either side of the law. Doesn't that help you sleep well at night? The only consolation is that General Motors cars are Slim Jim-proof, starting with the 1987 models. Other makes are expected to follow suit by 1989.

Ann Ketterer of Silver Spring: "Join the AAA. Opening a locked car is part of the membership. There's no extra charge." Bob Livingstone, AAA's director of emergency road service, confirms this.

Martha Schonberger of Annandale: "Call the dealer who sold you the car. Read him the ID number that's inside the windshield. They'll cut you a new key." If you're not near the selling dealership, call the closest dealership that sells the same make. They may be able to help.

Jerry Rosinski of Ellicott City: "When you buy a car, you get two sets of keys. Attach one to a key ring with your other keys. Put the other on a ring by itself. Drive with that set. If you lock the keys in the car, you have the others in your pocket."

Dr. Wolfram Foster: "Buy a Mercedes. You can only lock the driver's side door with the ignition key." A useful save-you-from-yourself feature that American manufacturers might well copy.

Becky Brennan of Vienna: "Buy a Ford Taurus. When we bought ours, we got keyless entry. There's a set of numbers by the driver's door. It looks like an electronic bank machine. Just memorize the combination, and you can never lock yourself out."

Finally, locksmiths called. Oh, did they call. They pointed out that they can open any door, anywhere, anytime. And why hadn't I mentioned them?

I just plain forgot, gang. Same way I just plain forgot not to lock myself out. That makes two sins I'll never commit again.