Archives for August 2019

Suzie’s Tale: You Will Need Tea


I decided to wait until the story had a happy ending before I posted it here.

I’ve had enough sad tales to tell. I didn’t want to leave you on a cliffhanger.

So here we go…

Two weeks ago I drove 75 miles to the nearest airport to pick up my friend C. who had been visiting family and friends most of the summer. Her plane got in at 8:30 at night. I arrived on time, her plane landed on time, her luggage arrived with her and all was well. Until we got back to the Cube. We got all loaded up and in the car and …… she wouldn’t start.

It would be very hard for me to explain to you what a shocking and otherworldly feeling it was for me. I mean it happens every day to any number of unfortunate souls among us. There’s nothing extraordinary about mechanical failures in automobiles. But it WAS extraordinary for me… and for Suzie. For you see my friends, I have been driving this car for over nine years. Nine years. And Suzie has NEVER let me down.

I think my inner turmoil had more to do with that shock than anything else that followed.

I have an electronic starter with a little fob and I push a button to start the car. Well that fob has a battery. I thought… well, my battery has died. So C. and I strolled across the street to a taxi and he drove us to Walmart where I bought and replaced the battery. He brought us back and I tried it.


If I had anxiety before, now it was ratcheted up into dangerous territory for me.

C. has AAA roadside assistance and she called them. You know… it takes longer than you might hope for help to arrive. I was so agitated by the situation I had to walk up and down the rows in the parking lot in the deepening of the night to keep from coming apart at the seams. I was not at all impressed with my inner reaction to this situation. I thought I was made of sterner stuff. C. says I was calm and focused. But that was just on the outside. Inside I was just this side of jibbering.

Eventually, the tow truck arrived. As soon as he opened his door and I saw his face… then heard his voice… “So what do we have going on here?” …. I knew everything was going to be okay.

Except for the monkey in my brain that was jumping up and down in its cage screaming… “What is WRONG with Suzie????” over and over.

We thought we had to take the car to the nearest repair business close to home, but when the driver found out that was almost 30 miles from where we lived, he called his company to find out if he could just take us straight home. Turns out he could. I was SO relieved because by now it was VERY late and we would have had a hard time getting anyone we knew to come get us.

I got to help the driver push and maneuver the Cube into position so he could hook her up. He had to call for help because he wasn’t sure if he had the right place to secure her to his truck. He said he usually was hauling big RV’s or other huge vehicles. He said he didn’t quite know what to do with this tiny little thing!

Anyway I appreciated his caution and the other guy came and assured him he had it right and helped him button things up for the road.

So he drove us home and we had the most pleasant conversation with him all the way. I kept telling him how sorry I was that he wasn’t going to be able to see our beautiful valley in the dead of the night and he should come back in the daytime someday.

We got Suzie unhooked and he drove away. The monkey was still screaming… but we were HOME. C. slept at my house that night and we didn’t get to bed till 3AM.

In the morning, I started making phone calls to arrange to get Suzie BACK over the hill to the repair shop. After the third or fourth call I really started to be agitated and was annoyed with myself how upset I was. But then it dawned on me….

I am 68 years old. I have NEVER had to deal with being stranded so far away from home by myself. This was my first time to have real car trouble.

My Rabbi says that when you are learning a new book or something new in Torah that you have never studied, that we should read through it quickly without making notes or getting distracted. Just plow through once quickly. He calls that first read through ‘making vessels’. You create ‘containers’ and then the second time you read the material, you have something to put your learning INTO.

I realized that for this experience, I had no vessels!  I didn’t have any reference points. Everything about the whole situation was like being in a foreign land with people speaking a language you didn’t understand.

As soon as I figured that out, I stopped being so hard on myself. Well shoot Cupcake, no wonder you are so frazzled. You just got thrown into the deep end and there’s not a pool noodle in sight!!!

(What about the monkey?)

He was so hoarse by now, it was tolerable. Though he was still making scary faces.

So in the fullness of time another tow truck arrived and hauled Suzie back over the hill to the repair place.

This was the fancy kind….


My poor Suzie Cube! Boo hoo!

The saga continued however because in a day or two they called me to tell me that they couldn’t fix her as it was going to require hooking her up to the computers that only the Nissan dealer has. I was going to have to have her towed back up to the same town as the airport! Full circle.

But by now… I felt like a pro.

That day I made SEVEN phone calls to four different places arranging everything. Just like I knew what I was doing.

(This is clearly not true. Take it back.)

Well, I was learning as I went and the monkey had collapsed in exhaustion by now.

So more time went by and I finally found out that the steering lock mechanism had failed. They were going to have to order a new part and install it. Okay. Fine. Great!

Then they told me how much it was going to cost.

The monkey twitched in his coma.

So a few days went by because I had company and didn’t want to deal with picking up a car until after the weekend was over. So on Monday my SIL drove me up there.

I had a nice talk with the repair guys. I paid the bill and they gave me my key fob back.

I went out to where she was parked and….. the door wouldn’t open.

I’m sure the repair guys don’t like to see you coming right back into their area with a funny look on  your face. But that’s what I did.

The upshot was that they had inadvertently drained my battery. It was dead as a doornail. I felt annoyed, but also a little sorry for them. Rookie mistake.

So they flash charged the battery and directed me to a Les Schwab tire place about a mile down the road. I bought my battery from them three years ago only in my state. Well, it was still under warrantee and even though it could be charged I decided since we were there I would just get a new one. I paid the prorated difference and in no time I was on the road. My SIL followed me most of the way home, just for fun. 🙂 It was nice to know she was there.

At last, my precious little blue Cube was back in my driveway.

But alas, being manhandled by SEVRAL strange men… and being towed THREE times, she was in a less than pristine state. There were grimy hand prints on the cloth doors, and some kind of oil stain on the front seat. And the most catastrophic thing was that I noticed on the way home that my sound system didn’t …. well…. sound right. Something was wrong.

Of all the things that Suzie and I share, it’s our love of music that’s the most important. And she has the most fantastic sound system EVER. So this is a real problem.

Get yourself more tea. I’ll wait.

I’m writing this crazy long story for a reason. I want to remember all this stuff.

So she has this really neat feature that I have always appreciated. You can set the sound at a certain level, and when you are driving slow, it stays right there. But as you speed up and the road noise increases, so does the sound level. Automatically. It’s very cool.

Well, not only did she have tow truck grime on her upholstery, but that sound adjustment thing wasn’t working any more. I thought… well, I guess that’s just the lumps we are going to have to take. We’ve had a traumatic experience, there’s collateral damage. Maybe something didn’t get plugged back in or what not. Boo hoo.

So this morning I got up early and decided Suzie was going to the spa. I spent three and a half HOURS cleaning her inside and out. I mean it was EPIC. I’m very happy to say ALL the grime and the oil spot came out with Resolve carpet cleaner. 🙂  And I took everything out of the glove compartment to sort through that mess and to put in an extra battery for the fob and a small screwdriver to do the job. [I had to buy one in Walmart that night.] This was the first of several things I plan to do to be more prepared for any future mechanical mishaps when far from home.

I ran across the owner’s manual and looked up about adjusting the sound on the cd player. I took it out and sat in the car and turned on the stereo. I started pushing buttons and realized that because the battery had died, all the settings I had it on had been wiped out. So I stared adjusting bass and treble and balance and what should pop up on the screen?????  The volume adjust for speed of the car!!!!!  So I fixed it!

Angels sang.

I’m sure of it.

(I think that was you… and you were off key by the way.)

I’m NEVER off key!

And one more thing… one very little thing.

So when the tow truck driver was getting ready to put her on his truck, he had to get her out of park. Which you can’t do when it’s not running. But he showed me a trick. There’s a place on the console next to the shifter that you can put a screwdriver down in there and put the car in neutral. Sweet!  Well there was a little plastic cap on that spot and when he popped it off it flew off somewhere in the car. He said, “uh oh…” I figured I could find it later.

When I was cleaning I carefully took out the mats and looked ALL over the floor and the mats and found nothing. I thought…. well, it’s not that big a deal. It’s just a little detail. I’m fine. I’ll deal with it… Boo hoo.

But then while I was cleaning the passenger seat, I ran my hand between the seat and the back, and there safe and sound was that tiny console cap! I put it back in place and just marveled at the entire situation. Susie is absolutely, completely back together. All her parts are in place and working AND she has a brand spanking new battery!

I have to admit to you. I am unnaturally and inordinately attached to this car. It borders on pathological if you are inclined to cynicism…. or adorable if you are more generous of heart. I will say that it’s adorable, but at the same time sort of dangerous, because my emotional stability can teeter on literally a bit of plastic 1/4 the size of a dime. But on the other hand, the finding of said bit of plastic can take on exalted significance and cause a level of delight and joy that is just plain weird in the grand scheme of things.

And even though I had to spend $$$$.$$ [yeah, count ’em] it was worth every penny. I depend on this car, and so do a lot of the people in my life. And if I want to anthropomorphize it to possibly absurd levels…. well that’s my prerogative now isn’t it?

(It’s also psychologically precarious. Don’t forget that.)

Yeah… it’s true. I do have a lot of imaginary friends. And foes.

(I am NOT your imaginary friend!)

Don’t I know it…..

When I was all finished reconnecting with my little Cube by touching virtually every square inch of her…. I parked her up close to the house so I could admire her easier.

Here she is… in all her quirky beauty:


Welcome home Suzie, my little blue friend!

I know you didn’t mean to break down at such a distance from home. I know you feel bad about it. But never mind. Stuff happens. Besides, we got to meet *Toby the Tow Truck Driver! That has to count for something!

(Gawd. I think I’m gonna hurl.)

Just don’t do it in the car if you please.



*Toby was so awe inspiringly wonderful and cheerful and reassuring in a stressful situation, and went literally the extra mile for us that I wrote a letter to his company the very next morning commending his work and expressing our gratitude. I hope they give him a raise. 🙂 I came very close to kissing him before he left I was so grateful to be in my own home again.