Lucille

I finally have a fancy car (if you count an almost seven year old RAV as fancy – I do). It came with a few bells and whistles: a driver’s seat that glides forward and back, up and down. A sunroof that opens to let in fresh air. A CD player that holds more than one CD. An electronic key with which I can lock or unlock my car from a distance.

But shortly after I got my car (her name is Lucille), the key began to disintegrate. I learned a few weeks ago that the housing could be replaced and my key’s innards could be transferred to the new housing. Its $50 price tag seemed a bargain compared to a whole new key for $210.

So when I got my car serviced the morning of this trip, I picked up the new key housing and had the innards moved into it. My car was done in record time and I zipped off to my first stop: a night in Tucson with an old friend I hadn’t hung with in years. We caught up on things, had a great dinner, I saw her daughter and met her grandsons, and we settled in for the night.

Up in the am. Coffeed up and ready to go. Loaded the car, hopped in, turned it over. The engine made its gr-r-r-r noise but wouldn’t start. I tried again. Again.

I dashed back to the house, explained the situation and asked my friend for her car manual. She also has a RAV, and Lucille didn’t come with a manual. I looked up the strange yellow light that had appeared on the dash when the car refused to start. Engine failure.

Engine failure! No! I had a trip to take, a friend to pick up at the Phoenix airport! I’d just had it serviced! It was Sunday and no Toyota dealerships were open!

My friend’s roommate tried to start the car. She then looked under the hood. Even though she’s an experienced mechanic, she moaned when she saw the complexity of Lucille’s computer-run engine. She tried to start the car again. We grimaced.

I then made calls to car-rental agencies, trying in vain to find one nearby. I had to contact one at the airport to find one open on a Sunday. My cellphone dropped the call when I finally got through to a human being and was beginning the process of renting a car. Tried again, made it, and got ready to head 20 miles south to the airport.

I took my old key off the key ring, handing it to my friend’s roommate and explaining why it had holes where buttons were supposed to be. I planned to call Toyota the next day and hoped they’d come tow the car. I knew I’d have to come back down and deal with it eventually but hoped the process could get started without me.

My friend’s roommate turned the key over in her hand and said. “Did you try this one?”

I hadn’t. I’d used my new key.

She insisted on trying the old one, and though I was sure in the deepest part of my soul that Lucille was in dire straits, that I’d be in a rental for weeks, that my vacation was destroyed, and that my friend’s roommate was out of her mind, we trooped out and she jumped in the car. And started it right up.

Miracle of miracles! A bad key! A well car!

Guess that peacock I’d seen the day before was good luck after all.

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