19

Can Demons Possess a Car?

Yes, I’m finally back. (And those of you who didn’t realize I was missing should not expect any chocolate eggs this year. The Easter Bunny and I are long-time BFFs, and he knows these things.)

I’m concerned about my car. It seems to have developed a bad attitude, at best. And possibly an alternative personality. You may recall that I got my Hyundai Elantra about a year ago. It was wonderful to drive, especially following the car with bad tires and no heat.

The first sign came late last year, after one of the early snows. In our part of Michigan, winter generally starts deceptively gentle with a couple of light snowfalls. After one of these, my car required a little extra effort to get out of its parking place at work. I figured I had just parked the front tires on ice and didn’t worry about it.

The evil side came out a few weeks later. We have a long, wide driveway and a broken snowblower. And lots of ice. One day, I turned into the driveway and stopped. Rather, the car stopped. Right at the entrance to the driveway. (It did have the courtesy to get off the road.)

The usual tricks of rocking back and forth or swearing did nothing. Finally, I asked my son to get it to move. (It must be somewhere in the male gene, because he did it.) While he was working to move it, my daughter came home. She had to wait in the road to be able to get in. (There are advantages to living off the beaten path – she wasn’t an impediment to lots of traffic.)

Her car had been having no trouble in the ice and snow. When she pulled in that day, her car got stuck. I think my car laughed. Not too long after that, the fuel line in my daughter’s car sprung a leak. Coincidence? I think not.

Pulling out one day, my car got stuck on the ice again. My son brought out the kitty litter, and I was good to go. The cats did not appreciate him using the good stuff.

Pretty soon, the kitty litter stopped working. I’m sure the car decided that we’d solved the ice problem.

Next trick was to get a tire caught in the frozen snow at the edge of the driveway. Like much of the country, it’s been really cold here. Unlike much of the country, we really haven’t been drowned in snow. We don’t have the huge snowdrifts that scream out, “Stop! You’d be an idiot to drive here!” So, all of a sudden, I no longer knew how to back out of the driveway. Then we’d shovel, kitty litter, try to move the car, swear, and repeat. A lot. I don’t generally swear, and now I remember why –there aren’t that many words and they’re worthless for fixing the problem.

My husband works in maintenance at a school district. He brought home some incredibly hideous carpet to put under the wheels when the car gets stuck. I’m not sure whether it’s the traction or the car cringing from the pattern, but it works.

It appeared that the car was running out of tricks. I thought maybe we were good to go.

Then apparently it realized that its real enemy wasn’t me, it was my son. He was the one who kept rescuing me. So it started turning into snowbanks when he left his friends’ houses. Nothing serious. Wouldn’t want to harm its good looks. Just enough to require digging out.

The car was designed in Korea and built here. I know it’s been tested in snow and ice.

I think that I have somehow offended the Snow Queen. I wonder if an ice cream cake would be a good peace offering?

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4

Next Year I’m Hibernating

I just got in from helping my husband and son push my car into the garage. At least the starter had the decency to die on the driveway. I wouldn’t have needed to help except our driveway is still icy, and the guys couldn’t get enough traction to get the car over the bump at the front of the garage.

(My husband would never have expected me to be much help before I started working as a stocker. Add to list of negatives from job: people expect you to use the muscles you have toned.)

The three of us were able to move the car, but not over the bump. I slipped on the ice and fell on my knees. We decided to try a running start. Ever tried to run on ice? It’s pretty humorous to watch; not so much to do.

I was ready to quit. Today was supposed to be the day that I recovered from a very physical week at work. (I’m going to try to get certified to drive the hi-lo so I don’t have to use a hand-jack to get the pallets off the truck. The ramp has a major bump. You may remember me talking about how uncoordinated I am; wish me – and the guy training me – luck.)

Unfortunately, my multi-talented husband, who is going to the work, has an aversion to working outside in the winter. Something about the possibility of the weatherman being right and needing to do it in either rainy or cold weather tomorrow. Those of you who live in the north know the next step:

Shovel! But we’re not talking about regular push the shovel into the snow, lift, and throw to the side. No – this mess has been accumulating for a couple of months. Our snow-blower broke. In the city, this would have required either an immediate repair or resorting to the shovel. However, our mail is delivered to a box on the road and there are no sidewalks. Since the only ones we might hurt is ourselves, the township doesn’t care.

And imagine how much motivation any of us had to go out and clear the driveway. It was dark all the time, cold, snowy, and windy. They cleared a path from the driveway to the house. (Nice three-car garage, not attached to the house. I like it like that. I have a certain paranoia that if it was attached, the critters that call it home might find their way into the house.)

The kids are agile enough to get to the front of the house where the bus picks them up. I’ve only gotten stuck a couple of times. And my husband has a four-wheel drive truck. So laziness ruled.

Much to our dismay today. The sad thing is that it has finally started to warm up. The ice is starting to melt, so there’s a layer of water and slush over it. The only thing that makes ice more slippery? Water on top of it.

We got out our earth-digging shovels, our regular shovel, and a pick-ax sort of thing. We chipped somewhere in the neighborhood of a yard back,  and more or less the width of the car. Depth ranged from slush to about three inches down.

Time to try again. I got the middle of the car since I figured the wheels were what needed moving and they are both stronger than me. And there was no ice anywhere near the middle.

Success!

While my husband opened the hood, I took the snow shovel to the end of the driveway. I figured I could break up a little slush and loose ice while I was down there picking up the mail. At least that was my intention.

About halfway down, I lost my footing on the wet ice. Fell flat on my back. Felt like a turtle staring at the sky – it was too slippery to get up. I felt ridiculous, but I had to call for help. Finally my son heard me and gave me a hand. I’d had enough – wet knees, wet bottom. It was time to go in.

I’d hit my head and my back. A couple of days ago, I aggravated my frostbite trying to get my car turned around in a snowbank. I figure that if winter last much longer, I’ll have an excuse to go to the South Pacific and recover.

3

Just Askin’

As the snow piles up, the wind chill drops, and my brain slowly freezes:

Why do I have so much trouble rooting for a team when I don’t like the coach? Last night, I could not convince myself to root for Michigan State over Stanford although they are instate and part of the Big Ten. Mark Dantonio is just one of my least favorite coaches ever (yes, I know he is very successful). I have no trouble at all rooting for the basketball team under Tom Izzo, who I love. (Note to those who don’t know: I’m a Michigan alum.)

Why can’t they seem to clear the roads around here quickly enough to avoid ice on them two or three days later? It’s not like we’re in one of those places getting storm after storm.

Speaking of icy roads – why do people think that if they are behind a timid driver, they can intimidate them into going faster by riding on their bumper?

If the roads are too bad to go to work, why do people feel the need to go shopping?

Why are my feelings hurt by my new hedgehog taking time to socialize? He’s got quills, but I must appear huge to him and probably smell weird too.

Why do I keep asking for books as gifts when I know I don’t have time to read them? Am I the only one who feels guilty about having a pile lying around the house?

Am I the only one who has to ask herself  ‘is someone laying something  or is it lying on its own’ before they feel comfortable with a sentence like the last one?

Why does auto-correct insist it knows better then I do what I want to say? People who understand grammar usually know it’s an incorrect usage and no one else cares. (And it never fixes the lay/lie type issues I do have trouble with.)

Do people set themselves up for failure when they promise to go to the gym/start a new diet January 1? At least half of the country has rotten weather that time of year and it’s dark and/or gloomy the majority of the time. Who really thinks about wearing a bikini? (Men thinking about the SI models do not count.)

Wouldn’t it have been nice if the early Christians had decided to take over Midsummer rather than the Winter Solstice? Then we could just hibernate between December and March. Unless you actually like ice and snow. (Sorry Down Under – this is my fantasy. It probably wouldn’t work so well for you.)

Do I have the only cat who gets cold feet and wants to warm them on me? When we go to bed, she lies in my arms until she gets warm and then she lays on top of the comforter by my feet.

Do stores that run perpetual sales realize that eventually sales stop being an event and become business as usual (as well as a joke to most consumers)?

What’s the correct response when a customer asks whether a product is any good, and I don’t like it? “Yeech” just doesn’t seem appropriate. Maybe “Depends. How well do your tastebuds work?”

Do they really have to direct the smells from the bakery over to my department? Cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies baking always make me hungry.

Why is it the hungrier I get, the less I want to spend time cooking? Delayed gratification is definitely not a strong suit for me.

Finally – why did the (full-size) snow plow decide it would be a good idea to block the road just as I was getting to the intersection this morning? He wasn’t actually plowing, he seemed to be taking a break.