Joco Opinion

Denise Snodell — When the inevitable meets the unexpected, watch out

I’ve always feared the day there would be some sort of misadventure with the Teen Mobile. That day came, but in true Snodell style, it arrived with a twist. My husband and I were driver and passenger.

Our boys have shared their car for almost two years now. Knock wood, bonk-bonk-bonk, they’ve been responsible drivers. To top it off, not even a ding has dimpled the sedan on their watch. Impossible. Even birds seem to avoid target practice on their windshield, as if my guys have made some sort of secret deal with the animal kingdom. What I’m saying is, minus faint evidence of Eau de Chipotle, their car is surprisingly pristine.

So a few Saturdays ago, just as a classic Kansas storm lurked on the horizon, my husband and I decided to run an errand. We opened the garage.

“Let’s take the boys’ car,” my better half suggested. He likes that it’s zippy and runs on an eye dropper of gas. Every now and then he takes it out for a spin. I suspect he’s really checking to see if things like the wiper blades are working with surgical precision.

I wasn’t up for taking the beloved Teen Mobile out in threatening weather. “But what if it hails? My car is pre-dinged. Let’s take mine.”

We stood there, torn. We looked at the cars. We looked at the sky. Cars, sky. Sky, cars. I could tell doting dad wanted to see how the kids’ wheels were handling.

“Oh, alright. Boys’ car it is.” I caved.

Our destination was so middle-age-y and predictable: Costco.

When we reached the parking lot, the dark clouds loomed even closer. The plan: Just grab essentials, and maybe a dessert. No leisurely food sampling, no waiting for the snack maestros to “slice” a quesadilla with scissors. Each thunder rumble outside kept us on Yakety Sax pace inside. We knew there would only be time to stick to the list, toss some dark chocolate acai berries in our mouths and run.

We were quick, but the storm hit the moment we rolled the cart out to the parking lot. In less than 10 seconds, we had that hosed-down look. As we loaded the trunk, I questioned why we bought a key lime pie the size and weight of a manhole cover. (Costco, that’s why.) There’s no graceful way to quickly heave an industrial-sized dessert into a car trunk while getting pelted with nature’s power washer. Stupid whipped cream.

But the drenching merely foretold more trouble. Just as we passed through the first busy intersection, the rain turned horizontal. The wind picked up to a speed of tree-snapping miles-per-hour. Then, the dashboard went bonkers. It said something like, “AC Off. Engine Overheating.” What? The windshield fogged up on cue.

We’ve been married almost 20 years, but at that moment I realized nothing ticks off my husband more than blinding rain, no defogger, a busy road, deafening thunder, violent wind and a car inexplicably overheating. Chalk one up to creativity — he spewed a string of “colorful” words in a combination never before articulated by a human being in the history of mankind. I was impressed.

We managed to pull over immediately by the entrance of an apartment complex. We sat there for a while, stunned, until the worst part of the storm passed. We summoned a tow truck. I called the kids to rescue us — and the perishables in the trunk. Yep. While we were in peril, my thoughts actually went like this: “Oh, darn. The pie.”

It turns out the car had a shredded belt, even though it had undergone a maintenance check just two weeks earlier. The repair guy had no idea why. Factory defect? We’ll never know.

What we do know is, despite the defogging glitch, the wiper blades worked just fine.