It’s no secret women – particularly single women – have a love/hate relationship with their car. Oh, sure, it’s a grand mechanical masterpiece that gets us from here to there, carries our children and friends, totes all of the loads from shopping and moving and picnics and ball games.
But some devilish imp full of mischief lies underneath. It’s almost like the Bad Child, the one who seems nice and polite and sincere on the surface, but who spray paints graffiti on your garage when you’re not looking. It’s the part that makes the car put off a God-awful noise that persists until you take it to the mechanic, and suddenly it’s gone, or that makes it burn gas so incredibly fast – until you’re trying to empty the tank so you can use your Fuel Saver card to the get the maximum benefit.
I’ve had my car for a little more than two years and it’s served me well – a handful of trips to Chicago, one to Denver, several to Galena and Cuba City, and countless trips to Carroll and Altoona to visit family. It’s the first car I’ve had with remote start, which I have come to absolutely LOVE in the Iowa winter, and the remote lock and entry helps me find it when I can’t remember where I’ve parked. There have been no major repair issues, and I’ve had it serviced regularly. It’s a good car.
A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house later than I should have been on a “school night,” and I pressed the unlock button on the key fob as I walked to my car. When the car knows you’re coming (because the doors have been unlocked) the headlights and interior lights come on for safety – so you can see your way to the car and see inside. This time, though, the passenger headlight didn’t come on.
Normally I wouldn’t have worried too much about it – but I live in a smaller city, about 18,000 people, where the crime rate is low and the police force gets bored. I’ve lived here for four years and have had five run-ins with officers on patrol: twice when I was driving my son’s old car and got pulled over for the light over the rear license plate being out, once for driving a friend’s SUV in the middle of the day to pick up a piece of furniture and she had a headlight out, once for not using a turn signal and once when my now-ex-boyfriend and I were on the sidewalk next to my apartment with my dogs at midnight one night and he had a bottle of beer – and an officer pulled over and made him pour it out.
Needless to say, driving into my community with one headlight out at 11 p.m. made me just a little nervous. Fortunately, it wasn’t my turn to be pulled over.
The burned-out bulb bothered me, though. I live across the street from a mechanic’s garage and I know they’d replace the bulb – but I never seem to have enough time in the morning, and they’re closed by the time I get home after work. So last week I went to the store and bought a bulb ($22! Holy cats!) and planned to change it myself.
Except I don’t know how. And I couldn’t figure it out. And my car didn’t have the owner’s manual – which presumably would have told me how to do it – when I bought it. And I didn’t think about Google.
For 13 days that light has bothered me. Every time I unlock the car when it’s dark, the shadow of where it should be taunts me, like a classroom bully: “Nyah nyah nyah, you’re going to get pulled over!”
I hated that light.
Today my son’s car is having issues so I took a last-minute vacation day to help him take care of those. Since I was home, I took the car across the street to have them change the bulb. They were busy at the time and told me to come back in a half hour.
A few minutes after I got home, my phone rang. It was the mechanic – none of my lights were out. They all worked. They. ALL. Worked.
I told him it had been out for nearly two weeks, and how I’d come to discover it was out. They hadn’t tried the key fob yet, so he told me they’d try that and I could come get it in about 10 minutes. When I went over, the new bulb was still in the package, still in the bag.
And the old headlight was shining brightly at me.
Sometimes … I really hate that car.