Monday, October 5, 2009


The van still rules. You can believe all you want that you plan these trips and that you are the one in charge, but if the van is limping, it is in charge, and attention must be paid.

My departing post mentioned that the ignition was acting up on start. It seemed to believe that it was being asked to start by "remote." which was and add-on installed several years ago to allow one to start the van from outside the vehicle. People who live in very cold places and members of families of a certain ethnicity who live in New Jersey know all about these starters. Few Southern Californians know of them and less about installing them.

I needed this option for a variety of reasons none of which are important enough to repeat here. As I arrived in Morro Bay, it seemed to be getting worse and whether it was doing real damage was a question I couldn't answer.

The proprietor of the RV Park was as usual a font of knowledge and he understood the problem at least as well as I did. He suggested I go see "Pete." Pete ran a repair garage in the center of town which seem fixes everything that run on liquid fuel and is a mode of transportation. When I arrived I met "Lyle," as Pete was busy assuring a customer that no, the key to his trunk would not start his car and that was why it was now stuck in his ignition and he would certainly take care of it.

Lyle, a man of about 20 or 22 years of age approached and I started my by now well rehearsed story about how when I turned the key to start the van in the normal way, it appeared to be starting remotely, as in the lights would blink and the ignition buzzer would go off. If I was fortunate enough to get it running, the lights would continue to blink unless I touched the remote start control start button three times, then it would run normally. It had begun the day before I left, but only on the first start of the day. By the time I had left the campsite that morning, it was doing it anytime the van was turned off.

I, who freely admit that what I know about electricity can be put in my pocket and still have room for my wallet, was sure that the best I could hope for was a "mechanic's shrug" from anyone other than an installer of such devices, but was sure that any mechanic could at least disable it so that no damage would be done and it would no longer make me crazy every time I started the van.

Now I had this young man standing in front of me who nodded his head, asked for my keys, tried to start the van and quickly stopped. he then asked for the remote control, examined it, and pushed one of the three buttons, restarted the van, looked at the dashboard for a moment, turned it off an declared it fixed.

Well. Since I was playing the part of Stupid, I replied, "Huh?"

"Fixed," Lyle said.

"How?"I replied.

"By pushing this little button, this grey one here, next to the yellow start button, which has an unlock symbol on it, I unlocked the remote."

"It was locked?" Stupid asked, mystified.

"Yes," Lyle said casually, "see, it has a button to lock it and unlock it and then one to start it. You lock it so that another radio frequency doesn't start the van and it also acts as an alarm so that the lights blink. They will blink again if you disable it as you did a few minutes later."

"Oh," Stupid said, "How come when they sold it to me no one bothered to tell me that? In fact the previous control, which had to be replaced, had the same buttons. When they gave me that one they told me it was a universal control and I could ignore them since they would only work with an alarm."

"Dunno. But they were wrong."

"Why, after two years, did it 'lock'?"

"Somebody pushed the lock button. Maybe you did when you put it in your pocket. Hard to tell."

"Yes, hard to know," Stupid admitted.

Lyle shrugged, smiled, asked if there was anything else, I laughed, he laughed, Pete--who had now joined us--added to the merriment, said I didn't owe him anything for three minutes work and then actually thanked me for stopping in and gave me a cup of coffee.

Lyle went back to tasks which I certainly hoped taxed his brain more than my alleged problem. Stupid got in his van and continued north on U.S.101 still shaking his head.

I wish there were a moral to this story. There isn't. Lyle is a wise young man. I wish-- no hope--there are more like Lyle out there. We will need them all.


  1. Still laughing...

    And well told!

  2. Wow, you are one lucky man. Congrats.

  3. NYC--No harm done, sort of expected when you run around like this. Just great the way the guy just understood it.

  4. too funny! I think things like that happen to all
    of us at one time or another.

  5. The moral of the story is this: Just because the lights are on doesn't mean anybody is at home.


  6. Haha!

    Finley is able to get my iphone into a mode I have yet to disable outside of turning it off and back on again. He does this via a deft combination of finger motions within seconds of grabbing the device.

  7. A great story.

    How can you be traveling while your Angels are clobbering the Bosox?

  8. Sempringham,

    Well, they are not my Angels although Padre fans were driven to distraction (sort of like Cun fans) so sought haven anywhere we could.
    Also, I have XM radio and am delighting in listening to the Bosox announcers "fret" which is a noise made only by Boston fans, about the first two games. I must say it has been wonderful to listen to them lose a game after getting two hits and one base runner past second base, and somehow blame all this on two of the umpires!