Now It’s Getting Personal…

I was out of town over Thanksgiving and the first week of December.  My car sat in the garage, shielded from the sun, resting, but evidently not enjoying itself.  I think it misses frequent contact with the road and other cars and of course, when you meditate on what you’re missing you develop an attitude (big time).

A car with an attitude, who knew? This is not a new discovery. My car and its shenanigans have been written about before because it is a thoroughly frustrating problem for me.  It has cost me money and put me in inconvenient circumstances. Usually I’ve been able to work around and tolerate what goes on. I have a high powered battery charger with me always, and my keys are arranged so I can take the fob with me when the key is stuck in the ignition. But now, well, it’s getting personal – a whole new level.

One of my first trips out was to a meeting in Sarasota. I parked and said a little prayer as I turned the key, only to find it stuck in accessory position. Knowing I would have to leave it like that, I turned off all the things that could drain the battery, including the radio.  I got out, shut the door, hit the lock button on the fob, and the radio came on.  It would be kind of fun to have a car that behaved like a naughty child if I didn’t have to depend on it so much.

After a day or two of being docile and compliant, it again surprised me at 6:30 one morning as I woke it up to take me to work.  Lights flashed, things whirred under the hood, lots of clicking, but no starting.  After several tries the flashing and clicking got weaker so I gave up. The husband took me to work. 

The car sat in the garage with the battery charger attached for a day or two with no improvement while I got permission from our mechanic to get it over to his shop. The husband got a tow truck the next morning. Just to make sure we were still dealing with a malfunction, I turned the key and satisfied myself that we were still clicking and flashing with seemingly quite a bit of battery power.  The husband was able to put it in neutral for it to be winched up onto the truck. Off it went.

The husband went ahead to show the tow driver where to take the car and this is the report he came back to me with.  They arrived at the garage and could not get the car out of park to roll it off the truck. There was no response from the battery at all. So they had to use the “shake and jolt” method to slide the car down the ramp.  Jerk, slam, slide, bang, repeat…   After getting to the ground, the husband decided to get in and turn the key and, you guessed it, it started.  He started it half a dozen times with no trouble at all.  Then he paid the tow truck driver $50 and they left. Sob…

I have stopped in at the garage since and talked with the mechanic. Mostly what he said was “you’re in no hurry, are you?” No, I guess not. I noticed he had a charger hooked up to my car.  I can’t imagine why.  I’m just sayin’, I see a trade in my future. Don’t tell the car. 

Aztek, Behave!

The other day  I wrote a couple paragraphs about how much I loved my car. I never got to post it because my computer got jealous and made it all disappear.  And  I should have known that it was dangerous to confess that kind of affection for a machine because I’ve had nothing but weirdness from it since, and this morning my auto-mobile became auto-immobile.

It’s internal fixings (not the motor but the thinking part) has been a little suspect for the last two of its twelve years.  Most notably, the ignition would not start the car but would produce all kinds of electrical clickings and light flashings on the dash.  And before I could take it to be fixed it would revert to normal and hide any evidence of its misbehavior.

This last year it has developed a more frequently occurring, defiant quirk.  It has refused to turn all the way off.  The engine will stop but the key will turn no further than the accessory position.  Radio, lights, annoying ding, ding, alarm, all continue to function as I lock the car and walk away.  The keys slip right out in that position, in fact, the keys slip right out when the car is running.  IN FACT you can turn the car on without the keys, just turn the switch.  But the catch is that it won’t act this way all the time, and I never know when it’s in the mood…

This morning at the usual time to leave for work, it wouldn’t start – lots of flashing lights and the motor turned a couple of times but wouldn’t catch.  The husband crawled out of bed to see what was the matter and we instituted the new rule: whoever is up and ready to leave first gets to take whatever vehicle is running.  I took his truck.  Hopefully a little time out in the dark garage would rejuvenate the bad, bad car.

No, I still love my car.  Like me, it’s getting a little worn out and a little crazy.  We have to watch out for each other all the more.  I love that it’s school bus yellow, that it has carried every kind of cargo I could possibly challenge it with, that it has taken me east, west, north and all over the south for nearly 200,000 miles with no major catastrophes.  And I suppose if you count the time I spilled pool chlorine all over the carpet, all the peanuts, cheerios, and taco chips that have had to be vacuumed up, and all the coffee spills and blobs of yogurt in odd places, we are about even. Oh, and the time (times) I backed out of the garage with the hatch back up. Yeah, maybe I should cut my friend a little slack. I’m just sayin’, Aztek, I love you even if you are a little flaky.

Me in my Aztek with brother Gary