Everybody who owns a car probably has a car-story to tell. I
daresay that I have a car-story like none you have ever heard
before. Enter into the realm of true but inexplicable new car
I took my car
to the dealer for a one-year checkup. All it needed was a
basic oil change. I was glad they finished so quickly. I paid
them, had my warranty booklet stamped, and cheerfully went
home. When I parked the car in my driveway, I heard a ticking
noise and smelled something burning. I opened the hood to let
the engine cool off. Then I called the dealer who said to
bring the car back. They assured me that, so long as no
warning lights were flashing on the driver's panel, it was
safe to drive. I only half-believed them, but I drove the car
looked the car over in a puzzled manner, assuring me he would
find whatever was wrong and fix it, while at the same time
insisting that nothing was wrong. Relying on my trusty social
worker skills of engagement, I tried to put him at ease that I
was not angry, but just wanted my car to stop ticking and
burning. He admitted to me that he had spilled oil on the
muffler which had caused the burning odor, but he could not
figure out where any ticking was coming from. Of course, the
ticking could not be heard at the dealer's with all the
traffic and other noises.
We agreed that
I would go home, again, and bring the car back, again, in the
morning if it was still ticking. It was. And I did. I told
the young lady who takes customer complaints that my car was
still ticking, like a clock, or like there was a bomb inside.
Her eyes suddenly widened with stark fear. I suddenly
realized what I had said. I had meant it descriptively, but
there was a reality of terrible possibility beneath my words
which the young woman had grasped.
This took place
during the week when the pipe-bomber was committing his unholy
deeds in the Midwest. That a copycat might put a pipe-bomb in
my car was a remote possibility, but a possibility nonetheless.
I could not believe that anyone at the car dealership would do
such a thing. They have been there for so many years. I had
made one stop on the way home that day: at the Post Office.
Could someone have attached a bomb under my car in the Post
Office parking lot? Should I be contacting the police rather
than a car mechanic?
thoroughly checked the car and could not find any reason for
it to be ticking. We agreed that if the car was still ticking
when I got home, I would come back the next day and take the
mechanic home with me so he could hear the ticking for himself.
When I got home, the car was no longer ticking. (I assure
you this is a true story. I also have a witness who heard the
This was not
the first time my car made a strange noise. Shortly after
buying the car, it began making a haunting whistle noise. It
was like there was a ghost in the car. It would only happen
sometimes and only at speeds over 60 m.p.h. I had taken the
car back to the dealer for this problem, too. I had spoken
with the garage manager who was honest enough to spontaneously
admit to me that this model had a tendency to do that.
Fortunately, that noise also went away by itself and I have
not been bothered with it since.
Poirot, I am annoyed by unsolved mysteries. Although I am
relieved that my car no longer whistles or ticks or burns, I
need a satisfying explanation for these occurrences. I have
decided that my car must have been abducted, twice, by space
At night while
I am asleep, space aliens come and abduct my car and conduct
experiments on it. Then they return it to my driveway by
morning. That's why it makes strange noises from time to
time. Then when they are finished with their experiments, the
space aliens abduct my car again, fix it back to the way it
was, and put it back in my driveway again. That must be it.
I can't wait to tell the mechanic.
would rather live among space aliens than a terrorist of any
kind any day. (Written 05/27/02 - Revised 12/01/03)
Until we meet