I was leaving work a few weeks ago, walking down the block, when I heard a car alarm going off. “Gee, I hope that’s not mine,” I said, half joking. But as I walked toward the parking garage, I saw the taillights of my Nissan Murano were lit. “That’s weird,” I thought. Was a goofy teenager tampering with my car? Was someone trying to steal my Garmin, which I had so wisely concealed inside the secret compartment/armrest?
I touched the handle to unlock the driver’s side door, got inside, and buckled my seat belt. But then I noticed something seemed odd—the dashboard was lit up.
“What’s that smell?” I asked. Something seemed to be burning. Wait a minute…the engine? What was the engine doing on? I hadn’t turned it on yet!
My new Murano has a really cool feature—keyless ignition. I never imagined how much I would love this—I can leave my keys in my pocket or in my purse, and as long as I have them on me, I can unlock the car by pushing a button on the handle. I also can start it by putting my foot on the brake and pushing the ignition button.
It’s very convenient not having to pull out your keys, find the right one, and stick it in the door—especially in New England when it’s 18 degrees out and the wind chill factor is -2. The only problem is, you have to make sure you have your keys with you—because if you leave them in your jacket pocket in the backseat and try to lock the door, it won’t lock—it will just rudely beep at you.
Or, hypothetically, if you leave the car running and get out with the keys, it will also beep at you, to remind you that you shouldn’t go far.
I remembered just then that I had been on the phone when I parked the car—and I stayed on the phone the entire time walking up the block. I must have carefully disconnected my Bluetooth instead of shutting the car off. I didn’t hear the car beeping at me because I was too embroiled in whatever fascinating conversation I was having.
New insight about my now-well-broken-in Nissan Murano: I can leave my car running, walk into work a good 300 feet away, and sit in meetings for over two hours in my office and my car will keep on chugging. Brilliant!
I find car troubles to be interesting metaphors for life. If my brakes on my old Volvo were squealing, I saw it as a sign that I needed to slow down. My check engine light seemed to come on when I was not tuned in with myself—a good reminder to make some changes in my life. When I once had a car that had constant steering problems, I realized I wasn’t giving myself enough direction and I better start listening to my instincts.
So what does it mean that my car kept on running for two hours when I wasn’t inside it?
Simple: I just need to stop being a dope.