Dad’s car, my deployment albatross
"How long's it been since you started your husband's car?" he asked during a break in the action.
"Last weekend," I responded. I avoided smirking - the official lives just up the street from us, and I'm sure he thought he had me.
I don't blame him for thinking that either. For eight months he saw the car sit in front of our house, sad, neglected and dirty. Not to mention dead.
Deployment cooties, you see, come in all shapes and forms. For one family it might be a rash of minor illness or injuries. For another, it might a spate of home repairs.
For me, it's always my husband's car.
During basic and advanced training - he was gone more than six months, which is as long as some deployments - he came home to a wasp's nest in his trunk. The car had sat there for so long, as person after person promised to help me and then backed out, that the bees had decided it was a permanent structure.
This time, when he came home for R&R, it was a dead battery.
That one was all on me - sort of.
He shares part of the blame for leaving me with a key that was on the verge of not working in the door. Just weeks after he'd left, it totally conked out. Money was tight at the time because deployment pay hadn't kicked, and he was stuck stateside with a bunch of extra expenses. Fort Irwin is 31 miles into the middle of no where, and I could only imagine how much it would cost to call in a locksmith.
Or maybe that car's just out to get me. Maybe there's a reason a friend of his calls it "Christine."
As a result, like so many other things in a life where kids and hamsters outnumber the adults in a household, I put Dad's car on the "I'll deal with it when I have to list." It was another of those rare instances where procrastination paid off.
A friend who knew of my car crisis called me one day in late summer. "Guess what! There's a locksmith on post now! I just saw his booth outside the PX!" Believe me, that's big news around here.
It still took me a few months to get around to calling him, but when I did the bill came out to $134.98 for computer programming, two keys plus a house call. I consider that a bargain. I've paid $90 before just to get a car unlocked that had a toddler inside of it.
Dad installed a new battery while he was home, and he and the guys cleaned up the car. I've started it every week since. I have to set a Google calendar reminder to do it, but we don't need to let that word get out.
"But when's the last time you drove it?" the official asked.
Aw, for Pete', that's pushing it. I can't a drive a stick, I said. He laughed at that.
"C'mon! It's not hard."
"You've heard that line about old dogs and new tricks haven't you?" I asked.
Besides, it's fall, and if Dad's tires didn't melt into the pavement this summer they're not likely to now. I'll be happy if he can come home next time to a car with a working battery and no bees' nests.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.