Last night I had one of my favourite kind of experiences… driving a daughter to the ferry terminal. It’s always beautiful quality time – we listen to music off an iPhone, talk about school, work, life, friends, parents – and I treasure it.
When we arrived at the terminal I parked in the short term parking area so we could have up-to-the-last-minute conversation, and soon enough the boat could be seen approaching the terminal. I walked her part way to the long corridor of covered approach to the loading area and gave her a final fierce hug.
I was thinking of her as I walked back to the car. Of her weekend in the city with her dad, and staying with her older sister deep in the east end of the Big Smoke, and connecting for a ride back home and when that might be.
I got in the car, preoccupied, and tried to start it. It’s one of those newfangled Dodge Journeys from 2013, with the electronic start when the vehicle recognizes the key fob being in the car. What is going on? The thing won’t start.
I try the lock/unlock buttons a couple of times. Nothing. ARGGG. The battery is dead in the fob and I’m stuck in the parking lot at the ferry terminal, literally miles away from a place to buy a battery.
I go into MacGyver mode. Take apart the fob and jiggle the battery and try again is my simple plan. But I can’t get the damn key bit off the top of the fob. I look into the centre console and there’s nothing there but two video cases and an empty tray where tools and other nifty things usually are. For cripe’s sake, Diane has cleaned the car. We rarely do that given the relentless tide of hair and paw prints from our two dogs, and why today of all days did she have to leave me without resources of any kind??
I dig in my pockets and find the key to the Honda Fit, our second vehicle. Ahh. I pry the spare key out of the fob and now I have a space within which to work at separating the two halves of the fob to get at the battery area. It finally pops open and SHIT, there goes the battery, flying off into the dark abyss between the seat and the centre console, which are both jet black. Fuckity fuck fuck. I can’t turn the overhead lights on because the fob can’t be found!
ARGG. Dig out the iPhone, find the flashlight app and start searching. It’s raining outside and soon it is clear I will have to go outside and open the back seat door to look under the seat – and get rained on. Oh, yay.
I get out and open the door to the back seat. There’s a sweatshirt and one of Diane’s many black shoulder tech bags on the floor behind the passenger seat. I try the front of the bag, hoping against hope for a spare battery. Nada. Wait. The very back row of seats is up and there’s car seats in them. In fact there’s a total of THREE CAR SEATS IN HERE.
My brain stubbornly resists these facts. AHA! I’ve found the battery. I get back in the front seat and reassemble the fob, biting to close the two halves enough to test the fob but leave an opening if I have to re-jiggle the battery. Nothing!! ARGGGH!!
And then the realization finally dawns: this is not MY car. I notice now that the seat is lower and closer to the steering wheel. And it is phenomenally clean. The kind of clean we’d have to pay $1000 to attain.
I sneak out of this stranger’s car and look around to see if my troubleshooting has been noticed. A women in the car between the two Dodge Journeys smiles. I hang my head in shame and approach my own car. Oh. My. God. I have locked myself out of my own car and the fob is not recognized. For the love of Christ.
I struggle to close the fob without sending the battery flying again. It finally accepts its marriage together and the door locks thunk reassuringly.
I get in and start the car, but not before phoning my daughter waiting to board the boat to relate the story. It’s just too damn funny not to share. “Oh… Mom,” my daughter says. It’s an entire universe containing disbelief, affection, love, disgust, patronizing condescension. I adore the sound.
As I drive away all I can think is: Sorry, family with the other Dodge Journey. I’m an idiot, not a thief. Oh, and: It is grotesquely unnatural to have a hermetically clean car with 3 car seats in it!