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.