Monday, March 8, 2010

Tragedy du jour

posted Tue, 07 Mar 2006

Does anyone out there have a Toyota Corolla, preferably a 1994? That’s what I have, but I’m not at home right now and I need to settle an argument between SH and me.

When I turn my car off and remove the key, everything turns off, including the headlights, the radio, the parking lights – everything. The only thing that might stay on is the dome light and that’s only if I have switched it from being door-activated to being on all the time. Otherwise, everything turns off when the key is removed.

The purpose of this wonderful Japanese system, which the Germans, whom I am not claiming as kin right now, do not have, is to keep you from running out your battery overnight or, oh, say, in the 90 minutes you are spending eating breakfast with your friend Jessica from high school whom you haven’t seen in 25 years.

So. I spent Monday visiting Rob and Lenore and their two great kids, then this morning, I drove to Hyde Park where my friend Jessica is a seminarian. We were friends in high school in Panama and haven’t seen each other since 12th grade.

My first trauma was parallel parking SH’s car. Even on my best days, I don’t parallel park well. I have been known to get out of my car and allow (beg) my passenger to park the car for me. One time, when Leigh was getting ready to do the favor, the driver in the car behind us (the one we were blocking) rolled down the window and yelled, “I’m a great parallel parker! Want me to do it for you?”

SH’s car, which he had taken out Sunday night to fill with gas and check the tires (he also gave me a roll of quarters for the tolls – is he a sweetie or what?), is stick shift. My dad taught me to drive stick when I was 12, but I have been driving an automatic for the past nine years, so I am out of practice. Try parallel parking a stick when you are out of practice. Just try. Fortunately, I had a very patient Jessica (remember, she is studying for the ministry) coaching me. We finally decided to cheat – I came in from behind and pulled forward – and all was well.

But when we returned from breakfast, the car wouldn’t start. Nada. Zippo. I had left the lights on, so technically, it was my fault, but I maintain that if the car had been designed better, this never would have happened. The lights should turn out when the key is removed from the ignition. So much for “superior” German engineering if you ask me.

I was supposed to drop Jessica at her 10:30 class. It was 10:27. Class was ½ mile away. “It’s OK,” she reassured me. “The professor always starts late.” But that really didn’t help. I still felt responsible. SH had jumper cables, but Jessica didn’t know where the keys were to her husband’s pickup, which was parked three cars ahead of us.

“There’s a repair shop just up the street,” she said. She ran into the shop and used her Texas charm to convince the owner to give me a jump start – gratis. I was worried that we were beyond the age of getting things like that for free, but I guess as long as the age differential is more than 20 years, men are charmable. Whew.

So. The car started, I dropped Jessica off at her class, and drove back to Milwaukee.

I am mad at SH’s car – some kind of Volkswagen – because the lights do not turn off automatically. I maintain that my Japanese-designed car doesn’t have this design flaw. SH claims that the parking lights will not go off in a Toyota when the key is removed. I say he is wr-wr-wr--- not right. Anyone? Anyone?

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