For twenty years I have traded one Buick for another.
Talk about brand loyalty!
I love that they feel solid, spacious, comfortable. And combined with gas mileage that is advertised at 28 mpg but that I often find gets closer to 30, what is there not to love?
Then one morning I got up to discover that the battery was dead. I knew this for fact because there was just enough battery left to tell me through the diagnostics window that my battery was dead. It’s great at telling me things after the fact – not so good at nudging me when they are close to going – such as suggesting I check tire pressures when one is already flat against the ground.
I raised the hood and called for my husband to come out to the garage. I can still see the two of us in my mind, looking down into the thick mechanical structure of this massive machine. And even though I actually knew what a battery looked like, I couldn’t find it. Neither could he.
I suggested looking in the owner’s manual, which is blasphemy to some male egos.
My husband was certain he didn’t need help finding the battery and was busy taking apart the trunk. There had to be a battery in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, I slipped into the glove compartment and retrieved the manual.
“It says it is under the seat,” I chimed.
“I’m looking behind the seat and it isn’t there,” husband answered, a swath of carpet from the floor of the trunk laying against the side of the car.
“No – not behind it – UNDERNEATH it!”
He looked at me as though I had grown tentacles and had begun to speak a foreign language. “That’s a solid bench seat,” he retorted.
“I’m just telling you what it says. We have to take the entire bottom of the back seat out. Look!” I said, holding the manual out to him.
He hates moments like this. He never reads instructions, counts the parts of a project, or looks at manuals. Once when putting together a swing for our son, he tried to make two metal ends fit into each other for close to an hour. I picked up the instructions, read the part about soaping the slightly smaller end, and slipped them together as easily as plugging in a cord to a socket.
But we needed to find the darn battery. So he looked at the manual and grasped one side of the seat while I pulled on the other, and low and behold the whole bottom of the bench just popped out revealing the battery and a another thing or two that wasn’t of particular interest to me at that time.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening – the day before yesterday. It was one of those hot, humid, southern days that feels like summer even if the calendar says it is still spring. I ran the air conditioner as I stopped for things like filling up the gas tank, picking up some garden supplies, stopping at the office supply for ink and paper, etc.
I backed into the garage, and began unloading the items from the floor board, smelling something terrible as soon as I got my nose close to the back seat. My husband asked me to pop the trunk lid and began to unload the huge bag of potting soil, and he too noticed the ‘burning’ smell coming from the trunk.
“Did you get your brakes hot?” he asked.
We popped the hood and found nothing smelly there, so we assumed it was brakes and went about the usual business of caring for the animals and fixing dinner. I drove the car yesterday. It still had an odor. By the afternoon I realized that the air conditioner wasn’t working. It came on, but the fan wasn’t blowing.
Aha! I have found the burining smell I thought and took it to the dealership for repairs.
My son picked me up and a little later the technician called me. He wasn’t really sure what the problem with the fan was, but the bigger problem seemed to be that the entire fuse block had been smoldering and melted through the casing and into the foam underneath the back seat.
“I can’t really explain why this didn’t catch fire. You are seriously lucky to have escaped without having a major blaze here.”
Those words didn’t really sink in. He couldn’t have the parts to repair it until Monday, so in my ignorance I asked if I should come and get it and bring it back then.
“Absolutely not! I wouldn’t be comfortable with it leaving the lot,” he replied. “You should come by and look at the bottom of the seat. Please.”
That’s when it dawned on me how close I came to disaster. And last night, I felt so odd as I realized the battery was on one side of the smoldering fuse block and the full gas tank on the other. One spark could have blown up the back end.
I suppose we all live with the tight wire of disaster holding us just above the fall. But at times like these, I think the essence of the preciousness of life flashes into our minds like never before.
Was it divine intervention, luck, fate, or just coincidence that kept me safe? Who can say for sure? But I’m feeling pretty lucky and extremely thankful right now. Which I suppose I should enjoy because after I get the bill for the repairs, I may feel differently.