Been There, Done That: Car troubles and the kindness of neighbors

Dave and I ran into a little car trouble lately. We affectionately refer to our 2010 Ford Escape as the “Jitney” because we had a Jeep for about 10 years. It took like eight of those years to get out of the habit of referring to every vehicle in the driveway as the truck, because mostly they were.

Dave always had a pickup and a dump truck and I drove full-size Broncos for 17 years. Telling the boys to “get in the truck” was usually answered with a surly “which one?” Good point.

Then after 10 years with a Jeep and no trucks, referring to the vehicle always started with a “J” sound. Jitney seemed like the logical transition. Anyway, the Jitney had to have some transmission work a couple of months ago. I lost my mind, tranny problems are big, bad, scary things. It’s cheaper to get a new car than to replace the transmission. Fortunately, it was a “fix” not a “replace” and our friend and mechanic gives us the Friends & Family Discount.

Everything was great until a couple weeks ago. We had spent an enjoyable weekend at our camper and were ready to go home. The Jitney was packed to the windows with everything except me, Dave and our Beagle Boy Cletus. I got the dog all buckled in and climbed in my seat as Dave turned the key. And nothing. He tried the key again and it made a grindey noise, but did not fire to life.

Well would you look at that. The car won’t start. Now what do we do? Do we call for a tow truck? Will they be able to find us back here at our campsite? Do we have to pay the $2 for a visitor pass for the tow truck driver?

And none of that mattered as one of our friends rolled up in his golf cart. He had a handy little thing that will jump start a car and folds up practically to fit in your purse. Once we had the car started, our other friend hooked it up to his charger. That was going to take a couple hours, so I got the dog back out of the car and put a cold beverage in my hand.

There may have been more than one of those involved because when the Jitney was ready to go, we couldn’t find the keys. OK, so I guess we’re staying the night. Another friend kindly offered us dinner and even a few more cold beverages. Awesome.

As I was getting us ready for bedtime, I found the keys. In the bedroom. Why would they be there of all places? Whatever. We packed Cletus back in the car and off we went.

The car started every time it was asked to for the next week or so. Ok, whatever that mess was, I guess everything’s fine now. Or not. As we were trying to leave the Ravenna Lions summer picnic, we had the same thing happen. Key turns, nothing happens. Turns again, grindey noise and more nothing. We carry jumper cables, but getting to them was an adventure. They were in their own little hidey-hole under the floor in the wayback, which was currently buried under all the yard games we had brought for the picnic.

A kind soul rolled his car over to ours for the jump and we were off to the races, so to speak. And some may question who in the world carries jumper cables these days. Anybody who has driven some sketchy stuff in their lifetime. Not once did I ever think I’d be saving anyone else other than us in a sticky situation. We carry those for our own use and understandably so.

Now that the car was running, we ran it straight up to the auto parts store, bought a brand new battery and shot the breeze with the counter clerk as he swapped out the batteries. We were later chastised by our son for spending so much. He said we could’ve gotten one way cheaper at the big box store.

Maybe, but I wanted one powerful enough to flip the Jitney on its roof. Besides, would the big box store have installed it for us?

Laura Nethken
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