Monday, October 15, 2012


It was bad enough when my husband’s van wouldn’t start a couple weeks ago when he had a doctor’s appointment, but this past weekend, the darned van’s timing was even worse.

First, let me backtrack a bit.  Thanks to my uncle, the van finally was jump-started on the Monday after the doctor’s visit. My husband drove it around the block a couple times, parked it back in the garage, and didn’t bother with it again until the following weekend. I probably also should mention that when the hood was first opened so my uncle could charge the battery, he found a mouse’s nest under there. That tells you how often my husband drives his van.

Last weekend, while I was still lying in bed, my husband announced at 9 a.m. that he was going to go get gas. “Then we’ll be all set to go pick up Colleen at the airport,” he said.

Colleen, my friend from Oregon, was arriving at 10 p.m. to spend the week with us. 

I fell back to sleep and was awakened by my husband about a half-hour later. Before I even was able to open my eyes, he said, “We’ve got trouble.”

“Define ‘trouble’,” I said.

“My van won’t start.  I tried jump-starting it again, but nothing happened. You think maybe the mice chewed the wires?”

I groaned and pulled the covers over my head.  “It’s a holiday weekend,” I said, my voice muffled underneath the blanket. “There’s not even anyone around to fix the van.”

“Well, then,” he said, “As much as I hate driving your car, I guess we’ll have to use it to go pick up Colleen. But there’s a problem with your car, too.”

I sat up and stared at him.

“You don’t have any seats in the back,” he said.

He was right. I had completely forgotten that I’d removed the seats and put them out in the garage, so my dogs would have a nice big, flat area on which to stretch out whenever they rode in my car.  So now, if I didn’t put the seats back in, poor Colleen would end up having to sit on the floor.

I went out to the garage and tried to lift one of the seats, which was covered with dust and cobwebs.  I couldn’t even budge it, it was so heavy. And even if I had been able to lift it, I had no clue how to reinstall it. I had visions of my husband stepping on the gas on the way home from the airport, and Colleen falling backwards with her feet up in the air in the back seat, when the seat came loose.

I rushed back into the house and asked my husband for help.

“You know I can’t lift anything,” he said. “I’ll end up in the emergency room.”

He finally suggested that I call AAA and have someone come check out his van’s battery.

“And what if it’s something other than the battery?” I asked him. “Something much worse?”

“Then get the guy to help you put the seats back into your car. You’re a woman, you can charm him into it!”

I rolled my eyes. At my age, I figured the only guy who’d give me a second look would be a cosmetic surgeon scouting for business.

I called AAA and they said they would send over their special battery-service truck right away. I was still in my pajamas at the time, so I rushed to get dressed.

“Put on something low-cut,” my husband said, teasing me. “We want the AAA guy to be putty in your hands!”

I glared at the back of his head.

The AAA truck arrived within an hour.  When I first set eyes on the driver, I nearly started laughing. The “guy” I was supposed to charm turned out to be a woman. 

She jump-started the battery, then tested it. It wouldn’t hold the charge. That’s when she told me it probably would be a good idea to invest in a new one. At that point, I was willing to buy a whole new car if it meant getting to the airport in time to pick up Colleen. I bought the battery and the technician installed it.

“You know,” she said, “it’s a good idea to drive the van at least a couple times a week, otherwise this battery will die, too, and it will void your warranty.”

When I told my husband the news, he was both pleased and upset. He was pleased that the mice hadn’t destroyed anything under the hood and that his van was running again, but he was upset he’d actually have to drive the vehicle twice a week.

“You know how much I hate to leave the house now that I’m retired,” he complained.

“Yes, I know.  I practically have to put dynamite under your recliner just to get you out of it.”

“And I always hibernate all winter,” he added.

“Don’t worry, then,” I said. “I’ll take your van for a spin a couple times a week. But you know how bad I am at backing it out of the garage. I use the ‘step on the gas, aim for the doorway and pray’ method.”
Well, that was one way, I discovered, to get him out of the house.




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