So, it may come as no surprise that I hate my car, a minivan that I never really wanted. But it turns out that it knows this, and it has started to punish me. It started subtly–randomly setting off its own panic device when I was out with it in public, and occasionally short-circuiting its automatic doors so that they kept opening.
Slightly Cleaner and Shinier Version of my Car
Then, it actually broke. When we went to pick it up from the mechanic, my spouse thoughtfully asked, “Here, would you like to drive it home without the children in it?” I accepted, though I grew nervous when he said he had jumper cables if it wouldn’t start. “The battery might be low because of the alternator.” I said, “It’s not going to strand me alone somewhere is it?” “No, driving it to the gas station will charge it.”
So that was how I found myself sitting in a parking lot, stranded in a car that wouldn’t start. But while I was waiting for my husband to drive back across town, it struck me. I was ALONE! Nobody was crying, nobody was bothering me. I couldn’t have worked or cleaned if I had wanted to!
This is ME time!
That was the good.
Then, several nights later, I went to Emigh Hardware to buy a bolt and some garden plants. I took Baby Noah so that his father could study, and we had a nice time cruising around and buying tomato plants.
I paid for my plants (and bolt), and headed out to the car. Which was so dead that I was unable to use the automatic door locks. It was dark, and though I was in a well-lit parking lot, I felt a lot less secure than I had at 6 p.m. a few days prior. And this time I had my baby with me.
That was the bad.
I picked up my phone to call my husband. But then I got angry. This car is not going to beat me. I am not going to drag him away again to come rescue me! I checked the trunk. Jumper cables–score!
The awkward thing about jumper cables is that you need someone to partner with you to use them. And when you’re in a dark parking lot, finding that partner is harder than you’d think. I tried to look like a woman needing help and not a serial killer.
I finally managed to get a quasi-unwilling man to come help me–but the minivan still didn’t start. The man really wanted to leave to get his wife, so what was I going to do?
I called my husband.
I thought our troubles were over, but when he took our other car to San Francisco for a week, I got worried. “I’m not going to get stranded in the stupid car when you’re away for a week, am I?” “No.”
What he failed to take into account was my own stupidity. I met my parents in Calistoga for a little mini-break while he was away. I pulled up in the parking lot of the inn we were staying in. As soon as I opened my door, I saw my parents pull up. Excited, I jumped out to greet them. I looked at all the stuff in the car, and in my haste to go talk to my parents, I thought, I don’t need this stuff yet. I will come back for it. We all went inside to check in.
I went back out to the car to get our stuff. I couldn’t find my keys in my purse. My heart sank. I peered in the window. There they were, in the ignition. Ha ha, said the car.
I peered in the back windows. I don’t really need the suitcases yet. It’ll be OK. I had wanted to take the kids swimming, but the tow truck would be there soon. That’s when I saw the diaper bag in there too.
That was the ugly.
“They usually have to come from Napa, so it will be an hour,” the USAA rep in Texas cheerfully informed me. “But I don’t have any diapers for the baby,” I said. For no particular reason. Since there was nothing she could do. “How old is the baby?” she asked.
“Well, you’re just not going to be allowed to poop,” I told Noah. That’s when the rumbling started. No, not thunder. The other kind of rumbling. The kind that comes with grunting.
So, it turns out that you can ask the three year old to take his underwear off (which he wanted to do anyway), put a maxi pad into the underwear, and make a diaper! “You just can’t pee a lot,” I told Noah. He grinned.
Thankfully, that was the end of the saga. The end, that is, until the next day, when the car wouldn’t start because the battery was dead.