Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ghost In The Machine

While some out here in the frozen tundra of the upper Midwest are cranky about the inevitable fall of the lovely white stuff that is snow, some of us, namely this Pacific Northwest transplant, delight in it.

Especially as we live in the country (no sidewalks to shovel in the grim before-work darkness, trala-trala) and have a garage (no car to shovel in the grim before-work darkness, tralalalala).

True, there is no covered parking while actually AT work, but this is usually a minor problem.

Yesterday, being a holiday in honor of our beloved Dr Martin Luther King, some of us had no school while others of us had to drive in to work.

As it was icy and snowy and the snow was blowing, and it was all dark (and who knows if the deer will be sensible and stay under cover in the trees and not take to leaping to and fro across the highway) some of us convinced others of us to take the shameful SUV into work.

One of us adores the shameful SUV. He also is sadly right when he says that we need to hang on to the gas glutton for the 10-20 times a winter that we really need it to get through to work. The other of us hates the damned thing (but also acknowledges that it is, indeed, paid off and can't really justify selling it for something more efficiently 4WD and built like a tank, if indeed such a vehicle exists) . It is also the vehicle that transports the dog and is, therefore, the vehicle that the dog barfs in.

Currently, it has one of those tree-shaped air perfumers to try to combat the smell of dog barf. As a result, it smells like the dog barfed cheap floral perfume. Some of us have assured others of us that this is a vast improvement in odor. Others of us have decided to take his word for it.

So, off I go, hating yet needing this 12 mpg monstrosity that smells like a whore who is still sleeping off her binge and has not realized she has gotten sick all over her lycra leggings. My head aches but I arrive in the parking area at work, safe and sound.

I get out.

I stand by the door in the snow and watch and hear as the door is locked by pressing the 'lock' button of one of those keyless remotes.

I made a point of it.

I go to work.

I leave work.

I wonder why the hell all the windows except the front driver's and passenger's windows are covered in an inch of snow.

Well, that would be because both windows are completely open.

The said inch of snow is a lovely white blanket covering every irregular surface of the car's interior.

In a situation like this, one can either cry or bring a blunt instrument in to play or laugh. As my co-worker, L, was there, with sympathy, giggles and snow brush in hand, I chose the laughter. Tears would have frozen to my lashes and made it hard to see the snow I had to scoop out of the car. The blunt instrument wasn't at hand.

So, we removed as much snow as we could and the rest melted all over everything on the way home.

On the plus side, though, the car aired out nicely and only vaguely smelled as it had.

How the windows opened? I have no clue.

I can swear they weren't down during the drive in. I was a bit sleepy but would certainly have noticed wind and snow blowing in on me as I drove along behind the plows.

I can swear that they weren't lowered on accident as I bumped something as I got out. The window lowering control is a lever way away from what I'd reach. Plus, the car was turned off when I got out.

The windows don't lower unless the engine is on.

There's no 'lower windows' button on the keyless remote, so even had it gotten bumped in my purse, it would only have unlocked things or set off the alarm. Plus, again, engine off.

All I can figure out is that either someone snuck in, rifled through my purse, took the keys, went out and did this on purpose (which is pretty unfathomable as we are not that sort, here, AND this is not the car I drive, well, ever, as we drive in together unless he's off or there's some late meeting for one of us) OR the car did it on purpose as it knows how I feel about it.

So, let this be a cautionary tale for you. Beware what you say around your machines for they may well turn on you. They certainly can hold a grudge.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


But I have often talked to may cars and have been known on occasion to rub the dashboard while saying, "You're a good car. Yes you are. You're a goooood car."

So far so good. But I think my Beretta (I was actually sad when I traded it in-sad I know) was much more open to my flattery than my van currently is.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feels like winter finally innit?
I might talk subconsciously to the car at times, although I know I am only talking to myself. The scientist is me question this all the time.

it smells like the dog barfed cheap floral perfume

I am sure there is a niche market at the very least for bottling this perfume, surely on e-bay? ;-)

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! The SUV did it to you on purpose, no question.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did mean for us to chuckle at this tale of woe - right?

Our Ridiculous Car has a Ridiculous Feature that if you press on the unlock button on the remote for x amount of time, ALL the windows come down. Handy in the summer, not in the winter.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear. That is not good at all.

I am sure it is the SUV. It knows how you feel. Keem's car constantly thwarts me by tangling up the seat belt and I have to do this elaborate seat belt dance before I leave the car or it will tangle the following day and then I can only get it to untangle if I open the car door. Which I don't get. The seat belt isn't caught in the car door. There should be no reason to open the car door. But it won't work otherwise.

I hate her car. Is that wrong?

12:28 PM  
Blogger BECC said...

LOL! Okay. I have to say, this is an unusual one, but I had to laugh because I too rub the dash and make nice comments to my vehicle. (and my children thought me odd :-)

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is snowing here in Milwaukie, OR. 2" as of 10:00am. Your step-mother doesn't have to go to work so in anticipation of spending the morning drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, she managed to volunteer for a stint of driving for Meals-On-Wheels, as she is much more capable that the usual elderly driver. And so after a period of guilt, I have volunteered to accompany her. Yeah, I am a real Sweetie, hard on the outside but a cream-puff within. Chains are on, and we are off. At least she didn't decide we needed to go skiiing on Mt. Hood.

The Sweet Ole RF-er

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too funny Diana. Actually I think our vehicles read our blogs, so have you ever said anything nasty about the poor S.U.V. in a blog? This could be revenge. Ever since I called my husband's S.U.V. a piece of shit in a blog, it has trated me even worse than before.
(And it's snowing here in Vancouver too.)

1:15 PM  
Blogger listmaker said...

LOL! Oh, I KNOW it did it on purpose. My last car (the dreaded minivan), used to do that to me. The alarm would go off in the middle of the night while it was sitting in the garage. I'd be driving along and the windows would go down. The doors would lock and unlock at their pleasure. The thing was possessed; yours must be related to it.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Lauren- I used to talk to my first car ('67 VW bug from my granddad). That car loved me and would never let me down. Unlike that one. So far the minivan (grrrr. 'my car'. grrrr.) seems to be a docile creature.

Sanjay- Finally! Now I feel like it's early December and should start wrapping presents...
There seems to be a market for pretty much any other wretched scent.

Jamie- I'm sounding concerningly paranoid but I really think that's the best explanation.

Cagey- Oh yes. Laugh away. Now that is a ridiculous feature. Had the car been on, I'd be out there trying all sorts of button pressing combinations in the attempt to try to make this all MY fault.

Dana- You know, I'm not surprised that it's Keems car that enjoys thwarting you. And why the opening of the door being necessary? Because it's a car and cars don't make sense. Ever. Hate away. It seems mutual.

BECC- Well howdy! I see nothing wrong in trying to placate the vehicle. I find going through the car wash a particularly nice time to tell it how nicely it's being treated and how I am happy that it's choosing to not make my life a bleak living hell by not breaking down in very bad places.

Dad- Ah, yes, but our snow should last for the duration, however long the duration is. Yeah! Sledding this weekend!

Voyager- I had to laugh about your husband's POS SUV, the Jimmy. We had one that we got rid of after 2 years, the predecessor to the current Shameful SUV (a Nissan Pathfinder). No matter how bad, at least it's not a Jimmy. Have you tried whispering "Suuuubaruuuu" in your husbands ear? I adored my Subaru. (sniff)

Listie- You KNOW it! Your prior minivan does sound positively possessed! How horrifying. Especially the alarm going off in the middle of the night. Maybe ours is a less evil distant cousin?

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Colleen said...

Having read my latest post, you know my 'machines' are in some conspiracy against me. Hopefully since I LOVE my Honda Odyssey (Yes, that's right, I LOVE A MINI-VAN!! Nerd, I know!), the Big Red Car (I swear the kids nicknamed it that) will remain loyal to me and not leave me with a wet seat on my drive home! Learn to LOVE that gas-guzzling SUV!!!

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I wouldn't be surprised if SUVs have some kind of secret detector that can tell by the size/shape of the indentation your ass makes on the seat whether you are a lover or hater of SUVs. If the latter, it then figures out a way to punish you.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

Aha! This is why I don't drive!

On a related note, Oyxclean or any of the pet enzymatic cleaners for urine should help with that vomit. The Oxyclean makes it smell nasty until it dries, but the enzyme cleaners smell kinda nice.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Oh. dear. god.

I'm laughing with you. really hard, I'm afraid.

I just left a comment on another blog, where the blogger asked what people's favorite word were. Mine? Resistentalism - the theory that inanimate objects are out to get you.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Colleen- Oh, I do love the minivan more than the shameful SUV. I just love the little black civic that has sadly ended up as Charles's car. I will always be a little car person.

Rozanne- You know, you just may be onto something, there. It's either ass related or something to do with the distance of the driver's seat to the steering wheel.

Leigh-Ann- Oh, yes, rub it in. We buy that stuff by the 5 gallon jug. (peeing dog, you know) I have no idea if Charles has used it or if Molly managed to get the material deep in a crevice, or maybe down a heat vent? (Now that'd be extra special, wouldn't it?)

Teri- Thank goodness it brought a splash of sunshine to you, m'dear. I think that's my new favorite word, too.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Kate W. said...

Welcome to Winter! I would have cried... On the bright side, snow in the car is better than rain!!

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh My! What an odd thing for the vehicle to do. I agree, it must be a grudge. Maybe the vehicle just felt it needed a washing? Maybe it was just vanity that did it? Or maybe it was Smurfs.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Could this be a safety feature of some sort? The exact thing happened to my friend but hers was a new car. Well, at least it's a friendly ghost!

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is totally unrelated to your post here but I came across your blog through "life as you know it" blog and have only gotten as far as your profile and am cracking up at your mention of C.S. I was raised as one and married a man who was a DEVOUT one and divorced him last year. I love that you're now a doctor! I go to them much to my mother's dismay, I go to therapy, I take my kids to the doc. La la la. I dont write about the C.S. thing much although feel it had a part in my messed-up-ed-ness that I am finally coming out of it. Looking forward to reading your blog

10:01 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

kate- Oh, yes! 1000 times over. From previous experience, you NEVER get the mildew smell out if your inner car gets rainsoaked. (And, boy, would that be an olfactory treat, mixed with dog-barf and horrible fake floral.)

Beth- Smurfs, indeed. There's nothing they won't stoop to.

Ruth- Hm. That'd be an odd safety feature as I risked hypothermia trying to get as much snow out as possible.

SOtJ- Terribly nice to meet you! Ah, yes. The CS thing. (Do people on your end get it confused with Scientology?) I have some 'issues' with it surrounding the death of my grandmother, but nothing major. It was where we went to church when I was a kid, but we also went to the doctor, had flouride treatments from the dentist, were completely vaccinated, and all that sort of thing. I read your last several posts. Looks like we have a thing or 15 in common.

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was totally immersed in it growing up and never "got" it or agreed with it when I did get it later on... even though I went to the private school in L.A. growing up, the college in the midwest and summer camps...CS overload. AGH. I like where I am now, drinking and taking meds and all that. Ha. Glad to "meet" you.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Yes, I get the "do you know TOM CRUISE?" thing with Scientology. Meh.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Now I'm afraid because of all the times I've banged the side of the computer when it wouldn't do what I wanted ... it probably has it in for me now.

Andrew (To Love, Honor, and Dismay)

5:59 PM  
Blogger Babs said...

Diana, would you be a dear and have your car stay away from my puter?? I think they've been talking, because this bast isn't doing what it's meant to either.

Down with the machines!!LOL

7:20 AM  
Blogger Lisa P said...

D - Well, we finally DID get a good snow - 3-5 inches in most places AND it lasted for a few days. Still many patches of snow to be seen around, but alas, the rains have come back today. Oh well, it was good for a couple snow days and a 2 hr late start Thursday. I went in 2 hrs late (as was instructed) on Tuesday, stayed for an hour and a half, saw 3 whole patients and then was TOLD to go home. I had Wednesday off anyway so I got to have fun sno-days too! (There's nothing like a sno-day in Portland).
Have fun sledding this weekend! (and never mind that ol' SUV).

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought about what you could try if you wanted to about the dog vomit smell. Go buy the biggest box of baking soda they have in the grocery store. Rip it open and toss it liberally about in the dog areas of the SUV. Since it is environmentally safe, you can feel very good about this as you do it, even sing if you wish! Close the damn thing up and just leave it until the next time you MUST use it. Since you did something nice for the SUV, it should feel better and not go opening its windows without permission. And the four weeks or so that the baking soda sat in it should have absorbed the baaad smells, without contributing any other smells to the mix.

Or maybe not. Try it and let us know!

1:53 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

SOtJ- Whew! I am so lucky. Really, we just went to Sunday school a couple of times a month. NO church camps or any of that. Pretty benign.

Andrew- Oooooh. Watch your back. And your files.

Babs- Will do. For all the good it'll do.

Lisa- I was thrilled for you. Ah. The joy of the whole city shutting down for snow! Curse our efficient plow and salt crews.

Anon- Hmmmm. That's an idea. Can't hurt and would be delightfully cheap.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ghosts travel free of time and space.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Nabeel- Hello! And, apparently, they are pranksters.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi--I'm a random stop-by reader, but I'll be back. Great writing... I know someone who lost a chunk of his thumb to a snowblower last year; trust me, it was personal. Those machines do know how to mess with us.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Jocelyn!- Simply smashing to meet you. Your writing is brilliant. And I do so believe you. I won't go near our snow blower. The shovel is more arduous but I know that if I lose a body part, it's my own damn fault.

9:25 AM  

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