If you’ll remember from Part 1, Herman is the car ghost or just the car that my parents sent me last summer. The Mercury Villager Minivan had just been delivered to me in Colorado from North Carolina. I had driven it from where they delivered it (the complex office) around the parking lot to park it in front of my building.
Shortly after that, we all (Chris, David, Michael and I) went out so we could see the new-to-us van. I thought it might be fun for us to go for a ride. We all got in and fastened our seat belts. I put the key in the ignition and turned it. Nothing. I tried again. Still nothing. Chris had me get out so he could try. It won’t start for him either. I feel somewhat vindicated although peeved that the car just arrived and it won’t start.
Wonderful. Just wonderful. So we jump the van and drive it to the mechanics. The battery was dead. Please tell me how the battery died in the couple of hours since I had driven it from the front parking lot to the back. The battery was fully drained. How does that happen? My dad sent us a check and went to the mechanic that had checked the car out before it was sent. The battery was new and shouldn’t have been drained.
The battery was charged and we took the van back home. On the way home I noticed that whenever I pressed on the brake, the interior lights came on. After driving for almost 25 years, I knew that was not normal. The interior lights would also come on when I made a sharp turn to the right. And then, the interior lights were on and would not turn off. Not for anything. Gee, I wonder what drained the battery? Could it possibly be that the interior lights came on of their own free will and refused to turn themselves off. Fabulous! Just fabulous! Back to the mechanic.
The mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with the van. I called my dad to tell him the latest about the van. I hadn’t been in possession of it for more than a week and we were at the mechanic twice.
Me: “So Dad the interior lights in the van came on and wouldn’t turn off. I took it to the mechanic and they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.”
Dad: “Oh, it does that sometimes.”
Dad: “Yes, the mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with it. They figure it is an electrical problem. Sometimes they turn on when you brake or make a hard right turn.”
Dad: “I forgot about that.”
Me: “So you sent me a car that is possessed? And you didn’t think that you should tell me this?”
Dad: “It isn’t a big deal and it doesn’t happen often.”
Me: “It isn’t a big deal? You mean that the interior lights staying on and draining the battery isn’t a big deal. I could get stuck somewhere.”
Dad: “I’m sorry.”
Now my dad really didn’t mean to send me a car that wasn’t working right. Remember, he took it to the mechanic before he sent it to me. He told the mechanic to fix or replace anything and everything that needed to be taken care of or would need to be taken care of in the next several months.
The interior lights would come on several times during a trip to the store which was a three-minute drive. Or not at all during the 20 minute drive to work. They would come on only sometimes when I would turn right and sometimes when I would brake. There was no pattern or predictability to the van’s quirkiness.
One day after the lights were going on and off and on and off, I decided I was going to yell at the van. I don’t yell often. Even my boys will tell you that. But darn it the van was supposed to be making my life easier and I had had it!
When I yell at the boys, I usually call them by their first, middle and last name. Our first dog, who we called Alex, was called by her full unabbreviated name when she got into trouble: Alexa James. Kirby, one of our current dogs, doesn’t have a formal name, but when she would get into trouble (it hasn’t happened in a long time) I would call her Kirby Lou. Our other dog, Sugar, doesn’t get yelled at – even when she does something wrong. But that is another story.
I pondered what I could call the van that would make me feel better. The van was so irritating at times! Who did it remind me of? Dad, of course. Now my dad’s name is Richard and Michael’s middle name is Richard. So Richard wouldn’t work. Horowitz, my maiden name, might work. But what would happen when my parents came out and I needed to yell at the van? Herman? It was my father’s despised middle name. He hated it. Hated it with a passion. It irritated him. And it was absolutely perfect!
Whenever the interior lights come on, I yell at Herman and tell him to turn them off. I tell Herman I’m not in the mood for his games and he needs to cut it out. There is a lot of blame to go around and honestly, Herman seems to get more than his fair share. Sometimes the boys talk to Herman. Chris does too.
Chris especially likes to talk to Herman when the car alarm goes off after the door has been locked and Chris has to go out to turn it off because I can’t hear it (see previous post – What? What?!? WHAT!!??). Yes, the car alarm goes off if you lock the doors to the van. But only sometimes, not always. So we don’t leave anything important in it, ever. I guess that Herman gets lonely and wants someone to come and check on him.
Sometimes I wish that I had a nice normal van and that Herman was just a bad dream. I guess that would be boring. And while I could use some boring in my life, it doesn’t seem if I am going to get it. Besides, who would I yell at if I didn’t have Herman?