My 82 year-old aunt bought a Prius last month. My husband suggested that she pick a different car. So did my uncle, her BIL, whom she listens to because he used to teach auto mechanics. It wasn't so much the car as it is my aunt.
My aunt always likes to have the new thing. She's generally very sensible and certainly can take care of herself. She never married, so has learned to get along on her own. So, last spring when she started talking about buying a Prius, I did my best to dissuade her, but knew it was only a matter of time before a Prius pulled up in front of my house.
Summer came and my aunt spent a great deal of time at the cabin. I usually check in with her daily, but when she's at the cabin, I only talk to her when she comes back to the city for something. During this time, there was no talk of buying a Prius. I thought maybe she had put the idea out of her head.
Silly me. I had forgotten how my aunt is.
Once her cabin got closed up for the season, which was on a Sunday, she went to the Toyota dealer and bought a Prius on Tuesday. Since no cars of the color she wanted were on the lot, they had to order one. Within a few weeks, she pulled up in her Prius.
She had had trouble getting it home from the dealer. Somehow she bumped the windshield wipers into the "on" position and was driving down the freeway with them constantly on and spraying fluid. I don't know how this happens, but I don't doubt that it did. My aunt pulled off the freeway and sat in the Cub parking lot reading the manual on how to shut off the wipers. No luck. So, she continued on home with them still running.
In the process of driving, she managed to re-bump the wipers and shut them off.
When my brother was here, we went shopping and he bought her a cell phone for Christmas. He felt better that she now had a way to call someone if she needed help. I thought it was probably better to let my brother be with his naive notions of having all the bases covered with my aunt. I'm very close to her and know that you can never think of all the possibilities that she will get herself in to.
This time, however, it happened while my brother was still here.
The day after he bought my aunt her cell phone, we were sitting around when the phone rang. It was my aunt. Her car was being towed. Something was wrong with it. We were to meet her at her house.
My brother was happy that the cell phone had already come in handy. Wrong.
My aunt had gone to Rainbow Foods to get a few items. She later said that when she started the car, it kind of jerked and coughed, but once she got going, all was well. She left the Rainbow Foods parking lot on University Avenue and pulled out onto Snelling (for everyone outside the Twin Cities, Snelling and University is the busiest intersection in the city.) She is headed south on Snelling towards Highland Park. She got a few blocks to the corner of Snelling and Grand when her car was now dead. It was rush hour. It was another very busy intersection.
Some nice kids who were trapped behind her stalled car, got out and helped push her car off of Snelling and out of the way. She was very grateful for their help, but they wouldn't take any money for their trouble. The tow truck from AAA was called (AAA membership is another gift from some of my cousins trying to further help cover all the bases with my aunt.)
This is where we are involved in the story, when she called us from the tow truck and told us she was being towed home. My brother was all smiles that he had just bought her the cell phone and it already proved handy.
Silly brother. The cell phone she used was the tow truck driver's. Her cell phone was at home charging since that was as far as she had read in the manual on how to use it.
The car...it had run out of gas. She hadn't read the entire manual to know what all the lights with exclamation points on her dash were trying to tell her, even the one with the lit-up gas pump.
Moral of the story: Don't buy a car that requires you to read a manual before you have enough information to be able to drive it.
Fr. Z’s Voice Mail
3 hours ago