Friday, October 13, 2006

Car Smarts

I bought my little sister's 14 year old, ragged out, Subaru Legacy wagon from her. She won't need it in France; it isn't worth paying any storage fees for; and hey, I have two sons who are fixing to drive (YIKES!!) so it's perfect. Except for the part where VBGF and I found out the morning we were driving said Subaru from Vermont to Dixie that the air conditioning doesn't work, the keys don't lock or unlock the doors, the back hatch won't open, the rusted out places on the floor boards are strongly reminiscent of the Flintstone mobile, and the odometer doesn't work. Flummoxed. That's a good word for how I felt, standing there in her driveway.

My sister is normally somewhat sane, but that particular morning is the morning I realized that she was near catatonic in the face of her upcoming move out of the country. I have described before how she had rented her house to a family with four kids who were at that moment driving across country expecting a clean, empty house to move into. My sister, whose husband has been in France since June and who works full time and has a one year old son, had packed NOTHING. Not one picture frame, not one plate, not one book. Nada. Her house was filled to the brim with all of her crap (despite her reassuring us all that she had everything under control.) I actually flew back the next week with my godmother and we got her out by the skin of our teeth.

We couldn't joke about it then, but she's in town this week for the funeral and to show off her baby before going off to Europe. I thought she might have enough distance by now to laugh about how strung out she'd been in July. I tried tonight to tease her about the odometer. That morning (THAT morning), when I had pointed out to my sister that broken odometers were illegal - she said, "Oh. I'm glad you reminded me! I have a replacement dashboard with an working odometer for you. " She rummaged around in the garage and produced a whole nother dashboard. Her instruction to me? "When the mileage on the one in the Subaru matches this one, just have your mechanic take out the old one and put this one in instead." The mileage on the one in the Subaru said 121,598 that morning (THAT morning) and the one she handed me was at about 144,300. THIS morning? The odometer in the Subaru still says 121,598. Get it? The odometer doesn't work at all. It's not just dead, it's really most sincerely dead.

Did my sister think this was funny? Did she laugh at herself? Um, no. She said (I shit you not) "But when I bought the car, that's what the guy told me to do. Replace it when the mileage matches." "Tidge, did you know the odometer didn't work AT ALL when you bought the car?"
"YES! I'm trying to tell you that it's not hard to fix - and it's not breaking the law as long as you wait until they match. The only reason it's against the law is because they don't want people turning the mileage back and cheating people. This way, if you wait, it'll just be like it was never broken."

I didn't know what to say to my sister who (it turns out) must have packed her brain and left it in storage with her household goods. Sure hope she doesn't need it over there in France.

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