My Lucky Day

Keyless cars are a wonderful thing, but only if you know the tricks of operating it. How nice it is to just get into the car, push a button, and it springs to life. Just walk up to the door and it automatically unlocks (of course if you are carrying a purse, you need to make sure the purse is near). A recent trick I learned is to slide your hand in the rear door handle and it will unlock all the doors at once.

Keyless car was the car for the road trip to Indiana. It worked like a charm. Doors locked and unlocked on cue. I was feeling smug that I knew the tricks to this car (and it only took three years).

The feeling of smugness evaporated when I was out and about on a multiple store shopping trip. I reached my first store, pressed the lock and as I moved away from the car, it beeped. It was the beep of unlocking. How odd I thought as I walked into the store. Returning to the car, I touch to unlock, Hmmm, I think the car door was already unlocked. Something is not right.

On to the next store, I go to lock, but as soon as I lock, it beeps the unlock sound. I hold my purse far away from the car and try touching the little button on the handle to lock it. It answers with a piercing whistle. Still puzzled, I go in do my shopping and return to a car I don’t think was locked.

Third store, still fighting with the car to lock it. This time I dig the fob out of my purse to lock the car. Same results, it won’t lock. I thought about calling my husband and ask why the car was acting this way, but I don’t. I will wait until I get home and demonstrate. Of course I know that it will probably work just fine in the garage.

I pull into the garage, put the car into park, but this time my eyes spot something in the well of the cup holder. What is this? It is a keyless fob to the car! No wonder the car would not lock! It recognized that there was a key inside the car. Mystery solved!

So let’s clarify this information – If a keyless car won’t lock, check for the key inside the car. It was my lucky day that a car thief was not out patrolling and looking for easy cars to steal that day.

Some People!

Yesterday I headed out to meet up with my gal pals for a dinner, a drink, and a catch-up on what’s been happening since we last met. As I drove, I pondered my dilemma, no Slice of Life story! My mind flips back through the week. Surely, something memorable stands out. Hmmm, nothing passes the interest factor in my mind.

While these thoughts pass through, I notice a beat-up, dirty green car in front of me. The driver speeds up, then slows down. He veers into the center lane, he veers back into his lane. I think, “This idiot must me texting.” I decide to keep my distance from him and watch carefully.

We arrive at an intersection with a stoplight. Of course, it is red with a long line of cars waiting. I know I will not make it through when  the light turns green. I settle back waiting patiently, hoping that the cars will move swiftly, but they don’t. The light becomes red. So I wait, third in line for the next green light.

The left turn light turns green, apparently the green car thinks he can go too. He moves forward, then he backs up. “What are you doing?” I wondered. Suddenly all is revealed when the first car driver gets out of her clean, shiny  white car. She walks to the back of her car and looks first at her bumper, then at the driver of the green car. The green car tries to get around her, but he stops as she talks to him. The hand gesturing indicates she wants to pull through the intersection to the other side and they can investigate damage further. She gets back into her car, crosses the street, pulling over. The green car however, did not follow her. He takes an immediate right turn and zooms off getting lost in the traffic of the road.

I cannot believe what I just saw! I wish I had taken note of the green car’s license plate. I feel sorry for the driver of the white car as I pass her pulled over and inspecting her car. It makes me so mad at the driver of the green car, but I also feel grateful that I was not in front of the green car. Some people!

It Wasn’t Easy

It was time. Time to say farewell to my car. This car served us well. It was the car bought during my last year of teaching, so it was to be a retirement car. Not our usual sort of car, but one bought because it would be fun. It was a  two-door convertible, not the most practical car, but a fun one. After 130,000 + miles, we decided it was time to let the convertible go.

Two years ago, we bought a Scion IQ to run around town, which would let the convertible rest. However, after one trip of forty miles, a problem was discovered. My husband has arthritis in his knee which became inflamed due to the height and depth of the seat. He would be unable to drive this little car. I knew it had to go, we don’t need a car that will cause pain when driving.

So now the search is on. My husband LOVES cars. He can read about cars all day long on the internet. He spends Sundays wandering around car lots peering into cars, studying the posted sticker, hoping the dealer left one open so he can explore the interior. (In our state car lots are closed on Sunday, so you don’t have sales people chasing you down.)

He is the person friends and family turn to when they want to buy a car. He can tell you the pros/cons, price you should pay, options you should consider, reliability of this vehicle, and those thoughts only scratch the surface of what he knows. However, when it comes to purchasing a vehicle for us, he has so many facets to weigh, it becomes a nightmare.

Just to give you a hint these are some of the items that must be considered:

  • Safety, how did the car do in all the insurance crash tests?
  • Reliability, how reliable is this car, does it break down often?
  • Does this car have high ownership satisfaction on surveys?
  • What is the cost of ownership? This takes into consideration cost of insurance, gas, depreciation, repairs, cost of injuries from a crash.

If the car passes those tests, he gets down to personal preferences, such as:

  • Heated seats (for me, hotter is better)
  • Cup holders must be able to hold two 32 ounce drink cups and not rub
  • Will the storage area be tall enough for a rolling crate?
  • Does the storage have hidden out of sight capabilities?
  • It must have a sun roof (bigger is better).
  • Is it comfortable after a few hours?
  • Does it pass the knee test or does his knee begin hurting in a short period of time?
  • Is it fun to drive?

So now he has lots of boxes to tick when he begins the search. He lusts for a German made car, but deep in his heart he knows he can’t buy one. They are too expensive and they are costly to fix. No BMW or Audi or Mercedes for us. We won’t buy a car if there is no dealer in town. So that eliminates Volvo and Mini Cooper.

He has done his research and now he heads out to test drive. This is the only way he can determine if it passes the knee test. Car after car is eliminated due to the knee test. Only a few options remain. What car will it be?

He does all the legwork, so when it is getting close to a decision my input is requested or should I say required?  All along I give feedback as it is needed, but I’m not truly invested in any car search. A car is a car is a car. What matters to me is if he is happy with the decision. He can usually bribe me to look at cars with a promise of a meal out. :-)

A decision is almost made. A car has moved to the top of the list, but it has a dent in the trunk lid. No dents allowed! However, he will be in St. Louis for a day. Maybe they will have the car. He spends the day looking at various dealers. Now we are weighing between two cars.

He picks me up from school and we begin the three hour ride home. He tells me all of the information he has discovered on his day in the city. We talk, we discuss pros and cons. I know a decision has been made. Now the question is will the dealer in town match the price of the St. Louis dealer?

Saturday my husband heads to the dealer. They match the price, a deal is made. Hallelujah the search is over! It wasn’t easy to find the car that meets our wants. So what did we get?

A Subaru Outback! I know we will have fun with the places it will take us :-)

A Subaru Outback! I know we will have fun with the places it will take us :-)

The Free Ride Day

When you get an offer to drive a brand new car that is a hybrid for a day, you just can’t pass it up. So with one click of the mouse and one phone call we had a brand new hybrid Toyota Avalon for a day.

Before we headed out to St. Louis, we stopped to get a hair cut. We are in no hurry. Our day stretched before us with no one to meet and no place to beat any specified time. We stopped back by the house to pick up an auxiliary cord from my car so we can use my phone to listen to Pandora on the 3.5 hour drive to St. Louis.

I suggested that we stop in St. James (2 hours away) to have lunch at a restaurant we both like. This should put us there shortly after 11 o’clock. (I was already starving.) The bonus was, we had a gift card to this restaurant.

We were on the road less than twenty minutes when neon pink signs appeared along the sides of the highway. Incident ahead. Great! Traffic came to a stop. We rolled on. We stopped. We moved slightly and so on until we came to the incident. A tractor-trailer had tipped over and they were unloading it into another trailer. I felt sorry for that driver, but now we were moving again. It was about a 20-30 minute delay. (My stomach grumbled at the delay, so I fed it a peppermint lifesaver.)

It was past noon when we get to the restaurant for lunch. I already knew what I wanted because I read the menu on my phone. (My stomach demanded “Feed me!” The waitress offered bread, I eagerly accepted.) Reuben sandwich with homemade chips for me. Blackened chicken sandwich with salad for my husband. My Reuben was a disappointment, the bread was toasted not grilled, however the corn beef was tasty and tender. Loved the fresh chips! My husband had no complaints. The gift card totally covered the bill and we were on our way again.

The sun was shining in on me and my seat warmer was on high, so I savored that warmth spreading through my body. I wanted this trip so I would have time to finish reading The False Prince. When I had started it on Sunday, I thought I might abandon the book. However, Jennifer left a comment on my post that made me determined to continue on.

We arrived in St. Louis and headed straight for the REI store. We each wandered around in the sections that interested us. I ended up with a bike skort with capri leggings. My husband found a pair pants where you can zip off the bottom half and have shorts. These pants will work great for traveling when you have to have knees covered but it is hot and you don’t want to wear long pants all day.

Our goal for the day was achieved. We could not think of another thing we wanted to do, so we headed for home. It was a nice diversion. We had been home too many days, trapped by weather. We each got something at the REI store. I finished my book. My husband loved driving the car. (No, we are not getting one.) I did not have to cook lunch or dinner for a day. We were home by 7:30 so I could read slices and make comments. All things considered, it was a good day.

On Sunday I told my son about our adventure. His response was a pause of dead air on the phone, followed by, “That sounds like something retired people would do. Kinda boring.”

I laughed and told him it doesn’t take much to entertain us.

Secret Addiction #5

I have an addiction that only is revealed in the winter when it snows. You might be thinking it’s some thing normal like constructing snowmen, creating snow angels, or engaging in fierce battles with snow balls. But you are not even close to guessing.

Picture in your mind a snowy day, the main streets have been plowed, so you need to get out to pick up a few groceries. You made it to the store, you have parked, and are about to head into the store when you notice a chunk of snow and ice wedged between the tire and the car. What do you do? Ignore it or remove it? I have to nudge  it. (Okay, it’s more like a kick than a nudge.) There is some quirky satisfaction I get from seeing and hearing that chunk fall. THUNK! Once I do one tire, I must check the other three and make that clump fall. Only then can I go into the store to purchase my groceries.

However, as I am walking past the other vehicles, I notice so many cars with icebergs hanging on for dear life. My foot twitches with the desire to “kick the clump,” but I resist (most of the time). I know I should not touch other people’s cars, but sometimes the urge is too great and I sneak a quick kick in when no one is looking.

So the next time you get into your car, check your clump. If it has fallen you may wonder, was the clump kicker here or did it melt and fall on its own?

Stoplights

Sometimes things happen that make you sit back, pause, and assess. I had such a moment Saturday at approximately 5:06.

“Do you want to go to Sybil’s for dinner Saturday?” my husband asked me on Thursday. Sybil’s is a restaurant about 130 miles from our home. We had only been there once, but my meal was so delicious the taste lingered in my mind. There were several things on the menu I was itching to try. Our anniversary was on Monday and I had mentioned I’d like to go there, but they are closed on Monday. “Then we could drive on over to dad’s and spend  Sunday in St. Louis,” he continued to explain as I turned these thoughts over in my mind.

It didn’t take me long to agree to this trip. We’ve been home for about two weeks, so we were ready for a quick overnight trip. We made reservations for 5:30 at Sybil’s. We left home at 3:30. I read, my husband drove, Pandora played. It was a pleasant trip. We exited the highway at about 5:05. “I guess it only takes us an hour and a half instead of two,” I say to my husband. “I hope they don’t mind we are a bit early.” I don’t mind, since my stomach is rumbling as I anticipate the meal to come.

There is a stoplight at the end of the exit. It is red. We sit and wait for the green light because we need to turn left. The light turns. We sit. I open my mouth  to say something to my husband, when a minivan drives through the intersection. I see a man and a small boy in the front seat as they zoom past us. I can’t believe this man ran the red light! If my husband hadn’t paused for that instant we would have been in a serious accident. I am having a hard time catching my breath as I realize how close we came to being crushed by a bigger vehicle (we were in the convertible). Even now as I write about it and visualize the scene, my stomach drops.

I won’t be in such a hurry when I am the first person at a stoplight. I will take the extra second to check oncoming traffic and verify that they did indeed stop. Life can change in an instant.

Other Slice of Life stories can be found at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/ Check them out!

Good Idea?

“You want to ride the trail tonight?” my friend Tina says on Monday morning.

“I suppose we could,” I respond slowly, desperately searching my brain for any possible excuse. Unable to present a valid excuse we make tentative plans for meeting up on the bike trail later.

When I tell my husband of the plans, he is delighted. He rides regularly. Me, not so much. In fact I haven’t ridden for about two years (really, it’s been that long?)

As I am preparing our dinner, he is out in the garage attaching the bike carrier to the car, airing up tires, and gathering helmets and such. My back tire won’t air up. It appears that the valve stem is bent. We can’t locate the spare tubes, so I will have to ride his road bike (he has two bikes). Not a big deal (I think) because his bike is similar to mine. That is not the case I later realize.

Finally, we are off and ready to meet up with Tina. Some adjustments must be made to the seat height before setting off. My husband’s bike has cages on the pedals, I do not like them. They are difficult for me to get my feet into them. His seat is not comfortable. This does not bode well for a fun time for me. I am a little wobbly at first, but I push and pull on the gear levers trying to find a good gear. My husband and Tina ride ahead of me as I try to get comfortable with the bike.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. Sweat begins to drip down my face as the temperature rises. The trail is stifling hot. My butt hurts and I want this misery to end. Pedal, pedal, pedal. We continue on and on. Finally, we stop for a moment.

“How much farther to the end? I ask.

“Probably about another mile,” is the response. My heart drops. I can’t go another mile. Tina and I turn around to begin the journey back. My husband will ride on and catch up with us.

Pedal, pedal, pedal, ring! Tina’s phone rings, “Where are you?” her husband, Matt asks. “Are you getting wet? It’s pouring here.”

Uh-oh! This is not the news I want to hear, because the top of the convertible is down! There were no clouds in the sky or prediction of rain when we left an hour before.

We are not getting rained on at this moment. Five minutes later, there are a few sprinkles hitting us. They feel good on my sizzling hot skin. Ring! It’s Matt again, he’s coming to pick us up. Yes, this is great news to me! My husband has caught up with us and when we told him of the rain he shot off like a rocket.

Matt is my savior! He appears not on a white horse, but in a white truck to pick us up. We head to Tina’s house to collect towels to dry out the car. My husband has made it to the car by the time we arrive with the towels. Fortunately, there wasn’t  anything in the car to get wet (other than the seats and floor mats. We wipe down the insides of the car with the towels.

1/4 inch of water in my door handle

Once we are home, the top of the car is suspended in air to allow not only the top to dry, but also the insides. The next day the car sits in the sun to dry out the interior.

So, was this a good idea? I’ll let you be the judge.

The sky on our return to home. Can you see the isolated rain?

PS: We rode again on Friday evening and Sunday morning. I have my bike back and that makes all the difference in the world! Slowly I am beginning the journey of biking again. I know there will be biking stories in the future.

We Thought We Were Getting a Lexus, But . . .

Did you know my husband is a car freak? He LOVES cars! He reads about cars nonstop. We subscribe to many car magazines. He reads blog after blog after blog about cars. He is the go-to guy if you are considering buying a car. He will tell you all the pros and cons of any make or model of car. He spends Sundays visiting car lots looking at cars, reading the window stickers to see what features are included. He can only prowl around car lots on Sunday because in our state, dealers are closed and he doesn’t have to talk to salesmen. He can browse to his heart’s content. If it’s a lucky day, the dealer forgot to lock the car so he can look inside too. This is bliss, to him, not me. He loves to visit Kansas City or St. Louis because they have dealers that we don’t have. Yes, I said he’s a car freak.

So he was reading his car blogs and they said that there is a factory in Germany that had a fire. This is very interesting because this is the only factory in the world (according to the blogs) that produces a part for all car manufacturers. It will take about a year to rebuild this factory. Once the current supply of this part is used up the manufacturers of cars will have a dilemma, and it will impact the number of cars that can be produced. This may occur in three to six months. Hmmm . . . so if I were thinking about getting a new car in a few months (at the end of the summer) I may not have a lot of choices. Maybe we should check around and see what’s out there that we might like. Before starting out there are a few features that we would like to have on the car:

  1.  keyless entry
  2.  leather with heated seats
  3. a backup camera (I don’t always do well backing)

Zoom–my husband was out the door with a smile on his face. About an hour later he brings home the little Lexus. A few weeks earlier, I had mentioned I thought it was kind of cute. It was very nice, cozy inside, definitely a possibility. Next he brings home a Scion tC. It’s okay, but seems to feel cheap inside. It is crossed off the list. The tC goes back to the car lot. The Prius is tested, but it did not meet the needs. A variety of Camrys are tested, only one makes it to the house for my consideration. I like it, it is nice, I could be happy with this. Decision time is looming. My husband wants me to go back to the car lot and compare the Camry and the Lexus side by side. Reluctantly I put on my shoes and get a jacket. (I hate car shopping!)

The two cars sit back to back. We walk to one, it has nice space in the trunk. We walk to the other, it has more back seat room. Back and forth we go, this is good here, this is good there. Which one do we want? No decision can be made yet, but we have to walk inside to shake hands with the manager or our salesman will get in trouble. Good, I think, because I want to see the little Scion car up close. I saw one at Kohl’s a few days ago and thought it was cute.

I sat down inside it. Surprisingly it felt roomy. “I like this. This is cute and I think its fun!” I announced. Shock registered on my husband’s face.

“You do? You would consider this?” he asks me with an incredulous tone.

“Can we drive one?” is my reply.

Sure enough, there is one outside we can drive. The three of us get into the car and off we go! I drive home so I can get dinner started. It has a lot of  spunk for a teeny car. My husband is calculating, we could buy this, get tires for your car, and still be money ahead. It’s something to think about. (I get to change back to my car. :-])

As far as I am concerned, the matter is settled. We will get it.  However, my husband spends the evening reading and rereading reviews of this car. In the morning he sounds like he’s talked himself out of the car. We talk pros and cons. This is not a car for distance traveling. We have a car for that. This is a fun car to run around town. It will save adding mileage to our other cars. I can keep my convertible. It only takes up half a space in the garage. Case closed. We are getting it.

Remember the list from above? This car does not have one single item from the list. Sometimes fun takes precedence over practical creature comforts. We laugh when we see people’s expressions as we drive by. What would you do if this pulled in next to you at the store?

This is a Scion IQ. Friends are questioning our IQ for getting it

Changing Cars

“You need new tires,” my husband announced. “So we need to decide are we keeping your car, or are we getting something else? I don’t want to spend the money for the tires if we are trading it in.”

This was a question I knew was coming my way, but trying to avoid making a decision. I like my car. It has been with me for about five years (the longest amount of time I’ve ever been able to hang on to a car). I hate, hate shopping for cars. My husband loves cars. He is perpetually mentally shopping for a car to meet all needs. I don’t even want to think about it.

“If we are keeping it, I don’t want you to drive it when you go out of town. It’s getting too many miles and the tires are not safe,” he continued as I sat there thinking and weighing my options. “You can take the other car, but you can drive the convertible when you are home.”

I finally respond, “The thing is, I can’t do this, drive one car for trips/work and another for leisure when I am home. I like my “stuff” in my car. I need my “stuff” whether I am home or on the road. I can drive the other car if you want me too, but I need my stuff.”

He understood and spent the afternoon  transferring  my “stuff” to the other car.  I drove the other car, now my car. I must get used to it. I miss certain features of my previous car. I could see the range of miles and the temperature with a glance. The net in the trunk is in just the right location and size. I will miss the whole aspect of the convertible.

There are a few things that are perks on the new car. It is a keyless entry and start. I don’t have to dig around in my purse for the key. The seat has more ways to adjust the bottom and back, so I can get it in the just right position. Plus it has a memory feature so if someone else drives it and moves it out of my position, I can get it back with the touch of a button. It has a backup camera that shows in the rear view mirror. I need that! I can see out the back window (convertible windows just don’t give a wide view).

There are a few things I still have to figure out. But I suppose I will adjust. It’s just not my car, yet.

What Was That?

Thursday afternoon found me tooling along the highway headed for home. I settled in for the four hour drive.  I had to be extra alert during the first forty-five minutes due to the rain. It would be light and misty requiring the intermittent wipers to a downpour then back to misting. Of course there was traffic causing all kinds of wet spraying every part of the car. Ahead I could see a break in the clouds. Was that blue sky peeking out from puffy white balls of floating cotton? Yes! I drove out of the rain and all the bugs from my windshield were magically wiped away.

Traffic has lightened up considerably. There are a few cars in my rear view mirror and a big truck hauling something ahead of me. I begin to relax and take note of the landscape around me. Three days ago the trees were bare, today there is a greenish haze beginning to form. The redbud trees’ fuchsia blossoms stand out against the browns of the trees surrounding it. The fields have turned emerald . . . pow! thunk! crack! An explosion of sound interrupts my thoughts. What was that? Then I see it. Something has hit my windshield and oh my! This is not a little chip. I know a new windshield is in my future.

This is the view of the damage from inside the car. Fortunately it was not in my line of vision all the way home.

I look around (as well as you can at 68 mph) to see where, what happened. My eyes rest on the truck ahead of me. Did he throw a rock up with his tires? Did something come loose from the big metal box-like thing he was carrying? What should I do? Who’s going to pay for a new windshield? All of these questions race through my mind as I keep this truck in view.

I called my husband to report the news. “Should I get this truck’s license?” I ask.

“If you can I suppose that would be good. But how would we ever prove that he did it?” he replies. “I will call insurance and see what we need to do.” He hangs up.

Cautiously, I get closer to the truck. I cannot see a license anywhere. This truck is speeding up, soon he is going way faster than I want to to. So I watch, as  he drives away, leaving my damaged car behind. I am grateful that it didn’t hit my roof and tear it (it’s a convertible). I reach out to touch the inside of the windshield. I expect to feel a fracture, but it is smooth as can be.

Soon I am back into rain. This is hard pelting rain. I worry as I turn on the wipers. Will the glass begin to crumble? Fortunately it doesn’t. I make it home. My husband cannot get over the size of the damage. He is sure it was not caused by a rock. We have an appointment to have the windshield replaced at eight Friday morning. (Shucks, no sleeping in for me.) The windshield guy says it was probably some kind of metal piece that came off the truck. I wonder about that, will his wheel fall off someday and he wonders “How did that happen?”

Just in case you were wondering,  the fields had turned emerald green. I think they were not yet finished celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Here you get an outside view and something to compare it to in size.