Fixed, I think.
:smile: I believe I may have cracked this nut.
First, I took the key off the keyring, having read that the dangling extra weight could mess up the ignition switch. It started fine like that this morning when I headed out. However, it wouldn't start again in the parking lot an hour later when I wanted to go back home. Plus it was raining.
Since it was detached from the keyring, when I held it and shook it in the midst of my mini-tantrum :cursin:, I felt something jiggle inside my flip key. Then it occurred to me that it must be the immobilizer chip that had come loose and was migrating around inside the flip key housing. :27:. I also then remembered observing the "professional" locksmith who had cut my new flip key
and extracted the immobilizer chip from the OEM key had secured it in place in the new flip key housing with a little wad of spit paper, and when I had inquired if that was OK, he had replied something along the lines of, "You no worry, friend. No problem." Well, I guess over the course of time his saliva gradually evaporated and his spitball repair dried up and lost its adhesive properties, setting the immobilizer chip free to roam within the innards of my flip key. Jiggling it a bit to goad it into migrating as close to the end where the key sticks out was enough to get it to start, since if I recall correctly there's a kind of magnetic ring in the ignition right around where the hilt of the key is when inserted. When I got home, I confirmed by trying my wife's key, which worked fine. So I took apart my flip key and secured the immobilizer chip in its little slot I could see near the hilt using sticky tack. It seems to be working fine so far, but I'll have further opportunities to test it tomorrow. I'll take my wife's key along for backup.
I'll temper my pissoffedness at the locksmith's [email protected]
$$ed job with the relief that I wasn't taken to the cleaners by an unscrupulous dealer that could've charged me a fortune for a new fuel pump that wouldn't even solve the matter
Thanks to all who helped. I'm sure I wouldn't have figured it out without the help of this great forum and the helpful folks here. :29: