Don’t keep the lights on

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Last night the cloud was an argument between me and my husband.  Like all arguments it had fuzzy beginnings–Best I can remember it started out as a cheerful email, “Hey let’s meet at the ferry so we can go home together!” and ended, well, badly.  Neither one of us  ended up in the river, exactly, but we both went a little overboard.

The silver lining is that the argument troubled me enough that I was up at 3 a.m. and unable to enjoy watching t.v. or reading or eating cocoa puffs.  So I did something I have  not done for nearly three months: sort the mail.  As a result I found the title to our car, various civil court papers directed at the former (apparently deadbeat) tenant, and two dozen expired coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond.

I was genuinely overjoyed at having found the title.  My having misplaced it was not related to last night’s argument, but still I knew my husband would be happy about this discovery.  Wanting to make sure he heard about it first thing in the morning, I sent him an email.    When I opened my account to do this, I saw that he, too, had sent me some messages across the living room.  They had been sent prior to his falling asleep so they weren’t that friendly.  I took it as a hopeful sign, though, that he hadn’t woken me up…or activated the email alert on my cell phone.

As the piles of papers scattered and dwindled, I could see that a new day was dawning.  It had snowed, too.  This buoyed my spirits. (I am a former Coloradoan.  And I have covered parking) What’s more, I figured that today, having had more than four hours to prep for the morning rush, I would have the kids out the door in a timely manner.  And they were!  But without gloves.  I got the gloves on the kids just as the bus was rolling up.  I waived good-bye with a relieved sigh and realized that I had also forgotten to pack my daughter’s lunch.

Oh well.  So the day would not be as productive as I had hoped.  I would wait for the morning traffic to clear and then drop off the lunch later in the morning.  The snow outside, which had turned out to be a rather sharp and grainy slush,  provided an apt backdrop for the morning routine between my husband and me.

“Did you see my emails?” he asked.  “Did you see mine?” I asked.  “Will you make me a coffee?” he asked.  Will you make me a coffee?” I asked.  It was yeses all around.  I figured that meant we weren’t arguing anymore.

My husband left for work, and I went to deliver lunch.

Our car has a keyless ignition, an innovation that I am supposed to like.  It is simpler I know, to be free of the awkwardness and inconvenience of a key, and instead to fumble around with a plastic brick that has a bunch of buttons on it.  But always have trouble.  So I wasn’t surprised, initially, when my frantic button pushing didn’t manage to unlock anything.  Then, after a time, I saw the little lock posts ease up into the open position with a feeble aching motion.  (Much in the way a person “hops” out of bed after a C-section).  Suspecting nothing, I nestled myself into the seat, and put the keyless key into the to keyless ignition slot.  Nothing.  I still wasn’t worried, figuring, that once again I thought it was in when in fact it wasn’t in because it is not a key and therefore it is difficult to know whether it is in or not.

As I tried again, I was reminded of the last time I was in the car–a faint memory growing stronger—how irritated I had been at another “convenience feature” —the one which keeps the interior lights illuminated for a minute or two after the ignition is disengaged—making it difficult it was to determine whether the lights were on because of this automatic feature or because the kids had turned on the lights—how I had asked them, during the walk through the dark parking lot while holding on to their squriming hands and carrying their backpacks, coats, lunchboxes, and assorted coloring materials, “did you guys turn on the lights?” and their response “no” followed by “you mean those lights you turn on by pressing a button?” And how I had thought,  “better make sure I check on that” as we entered the building and my children started arguing over whose turn it was to push the elevator button.  And then arguing over who got to walk into the elevator first and then who could get out first and then who would pick the t.v. show before bed and then who did not have to be first to brush teeth and whether they should brush teeth at all.

This is why each of my children has an iPad and about thousand cavities.

This is also why my car didn’t start.

The battery was so dead that the car didn’t properly recognize its keyless key and an alarm sounded for several minutes before petering out like a dying angry bird.  The battery was dead and the keyless key stuck in the keyless ignition.

Some very nice snow removal guy came to my aid.  As he removed the jumper cables from his truck, I opened my gas tank flap and the trunk.  Then he figured out how to open the hood.  I  started flipping through the 5000 page owner’s manual for “how to remove key?” and he tried to jump start the car.  Despite his repeated efforts, he only managed to juice it up enough to turn on the dashboard.  It was now scolding me with disconcertingly non-communicative exclamation point.

It all seemed so much worse than it needed to be.  Especially after I called the car dealer and was told that, unless the battery could miraculously recover, I would be up a creek that was much dirtier than the Hudson.

Then, as if to provide some perspective as to what is truly important,  I got an urgent email from my daughter’s teacher.  My child was “very upset” about her missing lunch.

I was wondering when I was going to have to report all of this to my husband (though I didn’t think he would be so troubled by the lunch part) when the nice snow removal guy asked me if I was a member of AAA and suggested I call them.

In fact, I was a member of AAA ! (this I knew having just extracted my membership card from that pile of stuff I had sorted through the night before). In a surprisingly short amount of time, AAA was on the scene, and would you know it, that guy was able to start the car (and remove the key).

The angry exclamation point on the dashboard was joined by a blinking circular arrow.  Hopefully, I mused, “This means we are right back where we started?”

I took this as a good thing.

My daughter got her lunch.  And enjoyed the opportunity to not eat it

About MotherJam

Trying to be insightful. But mostly just avoiding housework and ignoring my children.
This entry was posted in Couplehood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Don’t keep the lights on

  1. Owens says:

    I am laughing out loud – despite looks from everyone around me suggesting that I might be completely insane – tears streaming from my eyes from laughing so hard or maybe they are because I relate all too well!

  2. Jennifer says:

    One of the benefits of a van that has automatic nothing and plastic floors that can be mopped if I were ever inclined to clean them. The disadvantage is the manual locking system that requires walking around the car and locking each door individually, with a key that only works on three out of four locks.

  3. Jan Anderson says:

    Oh Molly! It is such a pleasure to read your blogs. They are delightful, so much so that I’m reading parts aloud to my husband. I’m also chuckling which causes him to glance over at me which then enables me to read another part aloud to him. Even though he doesn’t know you, he has enjoyed listening to what you have to say. Oh my, how times have changed…an urgent email from the teacher about the ‘forgotten’ lunch? Wow!
    I’m looking forward to reading more!

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