Parked the car at Jack in the Box's lot, switched lights off and turn ignition off. Prepared to exit the car and the next thing I now, the chrome door level was in my hand! It appears to be hard plastic. I sat there shocked for a moment before contemplating how to get out with some dignity. The solution that came was to roll window down, reach out and open the door, roll window up.
Not real elegant for my black/black'98 540ia Sport. I hope this problem is an anomaly.