Riding in the Car with Mom


Going to the airport is always an adventure.

This morning was cold, at least by Southern Californian standards. My sister and I had a 10:30 flight to San Jose from LAX, and my father had left the Toyota Avalon at home so that our mother could drive us to the airport. The car was packed, and we climbed into the car. My sister took the back seat, leaving me to take the shotgun position. As my mother started the car, I noticed the check engine light, along with the battery light lit up. The engine started, whined, sputtered and then died, right in our garage.

"Oh no! Oh no!" My mother exclaimed.

"Mom, just start it and give it some gas. The car needs to warm up." my sister said calmly.

My mother started up the car her way, not the way my sister explained, put the car into reverse and rolled down the driveway. I could still hear the engine vibrate in an odd sort of way. At the end of the driveway, she noticed the neighbor's daughter and her kids. My mother stopped the car, still in reverse.

"Are those your children?" the neighbor's daughter shouted out.

"Yes, they are all grown up now!" my mother excitedly responded.

"They've gotten so big! I remember when they were little."

"The kids grow up fast. You have children now too!"

"Mom, we've got to go, you can talk to her later!" my sister said.

The thing is, our mother is habitually late. It was already past 9, and we really needed to be on our way.

"Okay, Bye!" my mother waved as the car finished rolling down the driveway and onto the street.
"I really can't believe she get married and have kids already. Do you know she used to babysit you and Michael? I think she married ..." My mother was cut off mid-sentence as the car died in the middle of the street.
My mother cranked the engine, and it whined. The check engine light came on, as did the battery light, and the car wouldn't start up.
"Ah, what's wrong with this car!" my mother cursed as she cranked. Her anger quickly turned into despair as she remembered that my sister and I had a plane to catch.

"Oh no, oh no!" my mother wailed.

"Mom, give it a little gas when you start! That's how Dad does it." my sister said.
My mother again ignored my sister's suggestion, and the car started and died before she had even finished turning the key. My mother began to panic.

"Okay, Mom, let me drive." I said, unbuckling my seat belt and opening the door.
I got out of the car, and my mother got of the driver's seat as I started the car, gave it a healthy revving to ensure it wouldn't die again.

"Oh Michael, you don't need to drive, just start the car, I'll drive." my mother said.

I sighed, unbuckled my seatbelt and surrendered the seat back to my mother.

As we got onto the freeway, it becomes apparent why I prefer the backseat to the front when driving with my mother as she entered the carpool lane illegally by crossing the double yellow lines that seperate the carpool lane and the normal freeway traffic..

"It's okay, see, other people follow me. And that guy, he's illegal too. I don't see any passenger."

"But he entered where the line is dotted. And there is a passenger" I said.

"He might have kids in the back." My sister added.

"I really like the Camry design. So good. Everyone copy. I really like Michael's old car, and your current car. The one in between was ugly, so we didn't buy. I don't really like Lincoln Continental. I look at the design and something isn't right." Mom said as we raced down along the carpool lane.

My mother exited the carpool lane the same way we came in (that is to say, with a healthy disrepect for traffic laws), and as we came off the freeway, we avoided as near miss as she right turned on red at the same time that a car was making a U-turn. The airport was only a few blocks away now, and the line leading up the terminals was packed. My mother slowed down as we got to the terminal, and let us off.

There was a man directing my mother to a spot behind a tour bus. He waved us closer, closer, closer. He was still waving us closer when my mother stopped the Avalon, the car's champagne colored butt sticking out into the traffic lane. She popped the trunk to let my sister and get get our luggage from the back.

"Don't forget to call when you get there!" My mother said as she pulled back out into traffic.

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