Gremlins gather



Gremlins exist. Or maybe mechanical devices decide, “We’ve been good long enough. Let’s make trouble.” Or perhaps it’s in the stars, some configuration of constellations that causes clusters of small failures that are too minor to make the news but major enough to slow you down.

I should have known something was up the day I interviewed a new client. For an hour, we chatted over hot chocolate as I tapped notes confidently into my new little netbook, the household’s assistant computer. Suddenly the document closed by itself. When I re-opened it, it was empty. “Recovery” produced only formatting gobbledygook.

Fortunately, I had also taped the interview. My tape recorder apparently hadn’t received the havoc message. It worked fine – although, I must note, this was my assistant tape recorder. The main tape recorder had refused to function.

Meanwhile, my husband’s usually reliable 1994 Saturn had been acting up and, after several days of pondering, our mechanic (who will appear later in this story. Twice.) had diagnosed the problem and replaced a something-or-other.

But still, Dick was nervous about taking the Saturn on a 400-mile business trip. It made sense for him to take my Nissan, the newer car at only 11 years old. It also made sense for him to take the cell phone.

On Tuesday morning, I waved goodbye to my husband, my car, and my cell phone, and set out in the Saturn. Immediately a dashboard warning light glowed – something about if I kept driving this car, it would burst into flames and I would become cinders.

Back to the mechanic, who added coolant. All was well.

But that night, 200 miles away, Dick drove into a hotel parking garage where curbings are excessively tall and obtrusive. My Nissan sideswiped a curb and demolished a tire. AAA tow truck. New tire.

The following night, a dark and rainy one, I headed for a meeting at a place I’d never been. The arrangers had given no directions, but referred attendees to Google. Google has gremlins, too. The directions were wrong. I was following clear but untruthful directions, in an unfamiliar car, in the rain, in a town I don’t know, and my cell phone was 200 miles away. I found the place by accident.

The next morning, as I dutifully flossed my teeth, one of my crowns popped out. (Gremlins live in mouths?) I was grateful that the dentist could see me soon, but it wasn’t until 1:30 and I was taking a three-hour class starting at 1:00. My tooth was fixed by 2:00. Novocainnumbed and drooling, I drove to class anyway, where, upon my arrival in the parking lot, the Saturn refused to relinquish its ignition key, no matter how hard I tugged.

Fortunately, I had parked near the garage where our mechanic angel works. I told him “94 Saturn again” and he was on the case. He wrestled the key out and found me a ride home to fetch the other key. It was too late to attend class, but I was grateful that both the car and my body were home safe. My husband, my car, and my cell phone arrived that night.

I would like to believe that this was the end of my mechanical misadventures. But you never know how long gremlins will hang around, or how long mechanical devices will feel crabby and vengeful, or how long it will take the stars to realign themselves.

Thank goodness my main computer is still ww/#!orrrkii%n? Contact [email protected].