Monday, May 03, 2010

Hey, Ding-Dong!!

Exactly how many men does it take to fix a car?!

"Hey, Ding-Dong! It's me, your car talking. You know, the neglected, abused by three children hunk o' metal you expect to just keep chugging along no matter what?"

I sigh. It's Friday. I have a LOT to do before noon. I SO don't have time for this.

Not AGAIN! What do you want NOW, car?, I think to myself.

No, I do not TALK to my car. And no, my car does NOT have a name. It is a car. I totally don't get the whole naming your car thing. It has no brain, no functionality or personality outside of ME, so no. It does not get called Gertie or Bertie or The Colonel or Mr. Pickles or... wait. What were we talking about?

Oh yeah. The car calling me a ding-dong.

It generally doesn't concern me because it calls me a ding-dong at least twice a week when I forget to fill up the gas tank before taking Joshua to school. Back and forth, back and forth, twice a day, five days a week. That's a lot of gas.

I mean, it's not like I don't put gas in the tank. I pretty much put gas in the tank every other day! Not that I ever actually fill it up. That would be, like, 60 bucks or something. It's much cheaper to just put $20 in it every other day or so, right?


So yeah, my car calls me a ding-dong a LOT. Way more than necessary. I don't need that kind of stuff from my car. My kids already think I'm nearly ready to be institutionalized and I swear my son is just counting up the reasons and storing them away in that steel-trap of a mind of his. Waiting for the day he can commit me.

But again, this is the CAR we're talking about. Inanimate objects cannot commit me to the mental hospital. They can just make me FEEL like I should go commit myself.

And call me a ding-dong.

Where was I again?

Oh yes, driving down the road, listening to my car call me names. Repeatedly.

Well, that's not good. If it's just an "almost out of gas here, you idiot" kind of ding-dong it only does it once! Not over and over and over and...

Hmm... Well, that's lovely, I thought, as the car grew more violent with its dinging and flashed a message across the dash: REDUCED ENGINE POWER.

No kidding? I wouldn't have guessed that without you telling me, car.

Really, Reduced Engine Power means something more like, "No more power except what you absolutely need in order to PULL OVER NOW!!!"

Thankfully I was going downhill and got a little more coasting than if the car was completely in charge of the situation.

Last time the car did that to me I was in Traverse City in rush hour. I kind of made it halfway sort of off to the side. With the back tire sitting on the white line.

That was fun.

Back then I had no idea what was going on with the car. I sat there trying to ignore the honking and the lane changing going on around me and debated on what to do. I shut the car off. I turned it back on.

I waited.

No dinging!!! Yay!

I pulled back into traffic just as the green light was beginning to move traffic along and shot across the intersection.

"HEY, DING-DONG!! DING-DONG, DING-DONG, DING-DONG!!", the car screamed at me.

That time I managed to get ALL the way across the white line before it stopped.

"REDUCED ENGINE POWER" It flashed across its little screen.

Oh for heaven's.... TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW ALREADY!, I wanted to screech back at it.

I ignored the last few honks from those unfortunate souls I'd cut off moments before, then pulled out the owner's manual.

There had to be something in it about the stupid engine power thingy. Somewhere.


But I did figure out how to reset the brain. Or whatever.

You turn the ignition on and off 8 times. Or was it 9? Maybe 6? I dunno. I did it a bunch of times and then it stopped dinging at me.

So off I went. Only to have it pull that stunt on me about 7 more times before I finally reached home.

"Grraaarr!!!!" I said to my husband as I walked in the door and threw the keys down on the table.

He walked out and jumped in the car for a "test drive".

I swear, for an inanimate object, that car KNOWS when the man of the house is driving. It ALWAYS stops acting up the minute that man sits down in the drivers seat. Even the annoying blinking orange engine light that I can never figure out SHUTS OFF when Colby gets in.

It drove like a dream as long as Colby was behind the wheel.

It acted like a spoiled brat for me for the next two months. Calling me a ding-dong everywhere I went and randomly cutting off the engine power just for the fun of it.

We tried all sorts of things, flushes, better gas, oil change, tweaking, hammering. Even Colby read the owner's manual. Then one day, after one of it's psychotic episodes when I was sitting in the car trying desperately not to make a fool of myself by jumping out and taking the tire iron to the engine compartment, I read this little diddy in the back of the manual:

"Something, something, something... the lid on the gas tank has to be tightly shut or (something about 'the sensor goes nuts')" or something like that.



I got out, flipped open the door to the gas tank, and tightened down the screw-top lid. All the way until it clicked. Then I kept going. There. 10 clicks oughtta do it.

I climbed back in the driver's seat, cranked the ignition back and forth about a dozen times, and told the car under my breath in no uncertain terms that the tire iron was coming out if this didn't work.

The car started up. No dinging. I waited, waited some more, and finally decided I'd try merging into traffic and give it a try. She was good as gold.

And has been since then, as long as I keep the gas lid shut tightly after all of those frequent stops at the BP.

Until Friday.

I knew what I had to do. I waited till traffic passed, then hopped out to tighten down the gas lid.

"ALRIGHT Maude, you can call me a ding-dong all you want, but really, who's the DING-DONG that can't tell the difference between a real problem and a gas lid that's ONE CLICK away from being tight enough to prevent a stupid censor from FREAKING OUT?!"

So, yeah. I gave my car the first name that popped into my head. How else was I supposed to feel slightly less insane for talking to my inanimate, brainless, hunk-of-metal car.

She started it.

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