27 November 2007

A story of a girl and her car

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.


Divine Mercy said...

speaking of cars... my hubby did something really odd yesterday! he managed to lock himself out of the car while it was running! good thing he had roadside assistance and enough gas in the car until they got there! he has never locked himself out of the car before. believe me, he felt silly about it. no big deal!

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Your aunt sounds like a VERY cool lady. I had one like her but she died about 8 years ago. It makes me miss her to read about yours.

swissmiss said...

For a time when I was in college, I would lock the keys in the car about once a week. I used to even have a coat hanger that I wrapped around the bumper so I could use it to get the door open. With cars now, you can't do that :)

My aunt really is a VERY cool lady. She is very saintly and so generous with her time and money. They just don't make them that way any more! She also has a propensity to get herself into humorous situations a lot of the time!

Adrienne said...

A big hello to your wonderful aunt. I think your aunt and my aunt (who lives in Highland Park may be the same lady). I can see the whole thing in my head as my brother's business was on Snelling and Grand. Not some place I'd want to get stuck.

As for locking keys in car?? I keep a spare key taped to the back of my driver license. The trick is not to lock you purse in the car:)

gemoftheocean said...

Great idea re: spare key. It's been eons since I've locked myself out - last time was about 8 years ago with a rental car. Geez.

My favorites are where the women have a bunch of stuff in hand when they get back to the car, put purse on top of car (can you see this coming?) and put packages in car, and leave, with purse firmly on top of car -- until -- centrifical force takes over. Meanwhile, 50 people have been trying to honk and signal to her. She will wanly smile and wave back -- wondering if dear so-and-so has changed so much she scarcely recognizes her - or does she need to make an appointment for the opthamologist?

swissmiss said...

My aunt has lived in Highland Park for decades. I have a bunch of family in Macalester-Groveland and we live there too, just around the corner from Nativity. Currently, the NE corner of Grand and University has a Breadsmith, which is next to a Jamba Juice, a Dunn Brothers Coffee, the Kyber Pass Restaurant and a few other things.

I don't carry a purse and rarely carry my license, so the key taped to the license is practical, but doesn't work in my case. One summer when we lived in Seattle, I must've gotten pulled over a dozen times...just in one summer. I don't know why that was ;} One time the only ID I had to show the officer was my Hallmark card that happened to be in my car (I was with my husband and dad on our way to Spokane to visit my cousin and was going a wee bit too fast across the deserts of central WA). I only ever got ONE ticket. I've changed my evil ways and haven't been pulled over since...well, except one other time that was entrapment :)

I see you've met my aunt. She does all that and more. If her Guardian Angel ever went on vacation, I fear to think what might happen to the woman! I keep close tabs on her, but she does these things even when I'm with her. Like lose her keys, or wallet or purse or debit card or drive over curbs or go down one-ways the wrong way or get lost two block from home. No, it's not her age. She's been doing this all her life. It's just my aunt! She really is the mostly saintly person I know, but takes more looking after than my kids!

Adrienne said...

Well did a whole comment and it disappeared.
I graduated from Nativity - grew up just off the corner of St. Clair and Cretin.
My aunt lived across from St. Thomas University and than moved to Upper St. Dennis. She must be about 76 now.
My bro's business was on Grand just off Snelling next to Lula. My reading comprehension must have been lacking.

swissmiss said...

You must've lived close to Father Ubel, who grew up on Berkeley, just west of Cretin.
Hmmm, not sure what Lula you are talking about. I think there is a Lula on Snelling across from O'Gara's near the Photographer's Guild.

Adrienne said...

How old is Father Ubel? You see, dear one, I am old, old, old. I'll be 62 next month. Fathe Steiner was pastor at Nativity when we went there and I know he passed away.
Your right about Lula -- I think I'm having some kind of mental breakdown. Oh, that's right, you must have a mind in order for it to actually break down:)
Everywhere in the world I do east/west/north/south except St. Paul. Everything is crooked there. My house was the duplex next to brick commercial building on the corner. It used to be a grocery store when I grew up. That would be in the 50's - waaaaay before you were born.
Whenever I come home I am amazed at how small that house looks now:)

Anonymous said...

Swiss Miss and Adrienne,

You guys are clearly having a "Small Paul" moment. In Saint Paul you are only a few people away from knowing each other.


Adrienne said...

Katie -- that is sooooo true!

Ok - here's my problem. My bro's old business was on Selby and Grand - next to Lula - across from Starbuck's - spittn' distance to O'Gara's. I have no idea why I said Grand. He had the old Airwave pager and cell phone place. Got a divorce and, poof, no more Airwave:)

swissmiss said...

OK, now we are are the same wavelength! I thought you meant Selby instead of Grand :)
Father Ubel is probably mid-40s. I guess his family attended Nativity and he is now pastor at St. Agnes.
The big brick building on Cretin and St. Clair is now an insurance office (it is on the NE corner). I attended St. Thomas in the 80s and think it was an insurance company back then too. I could be totally wrong about that. Don't remember it being a grocery store.
Did you attend Derham Hall or the other school, I think it was called St. Joseph's?? I grew up in the suburbs so my knowledge of the Mac/Highland area back then is limited.

Adrienne said...

It's been ages since it was a grocery store. The store took up the whole first floor and on the side facing Cretin was a little beauty shop. Upstairs was apartments.

Went to Derham Hall when it was still on the campus of St. Kate's. The "other" high schools for girls were Our Lady of Peace(OLP) (now a law school - William Mitchell - I think) and Visitation.
Since my Dad died I don't make too many trips to St. Paul although, my friend, who lives on Hartford is always wanting me to sneak into town.

Couldn't sneak anymore --I'd have to call for a huge blogger convention:)

Lisa said...

Adrienne and Swissmiss, too funny- all you St. Paul people are so tight! Ohmygosh, how do new people(transplants) ever fit in and adjust? Ha!:) I can follow along because my husband grew up in Highland on Lower St. Dennis and I did a fair share of visiting that part of town.
This post was very cute and your aunt is lucky to have such caring nieces and nephews!

God bless,

swissmiss said...

You're included too...your husband is from the area so that certainly qualifies!

My aunt has brought joy to so many people and eased so many burdens, that there are oodles of people looking after her. I'm very blessed to be at the top of the list of people who check up on her.

Terry Nelson said...

Is this the aunt Fr. Z refers to as living in the attic? LOL!