Mystery on Wheels

November 7, 2019

We have a new minivan. Great, huh? Not so fast!

Our two vehicles, for years, have been mine (a Hyundai Accent) and Steve’s (a Chevrolet van of some kind, bought used many moons ago). I love my compact car. It drives smoothly, parks easily, and has a surprisingly capacious trunk.

Stevo’s, which we all called The Beast, was built more like a small truck. You needed a running jump to climb into the thing, and in general it looked like the kind of shady “kidnappers within” auto you wouldn’t park next to in a mall lot. No tears were shed when, with more expensive repairs looming, we decided to cut our losses and pull the plug.

We are now leasing (for the first time), and it’ a very attractive number, a Subaru Forester (where do they come up with these names? Probably from the same folks who name new meds. I am half expecting to see a mixup at some point, as Ford introduces its deluxe seven passenger Aleve.) Steve has had it for just a couple of weeks now, and has endured probably two dozen reminders from me that he CANNOT drink coffee in it because IT IS A LEASE. He does use it for transporting props and costumes, and vows to be careful. We’ll see.

I have yet to drive the Forester. but at some point I hope to take it on the road. The problem is, (and Steve is facing this as well) I don’t have the time to read the multiple owner’s manuals (you read that right). Where is the control for the wipers? The A/C? How about adjusting the seats and mirrors? And here’s my next pet peeve: why is every single make and model completely different??? it is a nightmare of searching for the defrost and the volume on the radio while in traffic, because nothing is where it is in the other car. Nothing.

I also hate renting a car, because they basically flip you the key and wish you luck. 90% of drivers figure things out quickly. The rest of us sit in the lot at Hertz for an hour, trying to locate the ignition. I remember on our mission trip to West Virginia, my seven teenage passengers piled into the rental minivan. We were trying to keep the vehicles together as we traveled from airport to work site. Every other chaperone had started off, and I was frantically trying to keep up. My seat was set so far back (and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust it) that I was almost standing up to reach the brakes and gas pedal—a situation that continued for the next 50 miles. My legs ached for days, and the kids still tease me about it.

There’s a wonderful novel on my beside table, but tonight, I guess I’ll be reading a mystery instead, The Story of Our Subaru, Volume One and maybe, maybe, I will discover where the heck the gas cap is.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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