We own three Mazdas. The oldest one belonged to my dad , who died in 2005, and it became our daughter’s car. It saw her through college and her last four years in Orlando. It has 127,000 miles on it, a huge dent on the left side from a meet and greet at a gas station with a concrete block, and the right side mirror is gone, snapped off in some other mishap. We own a 2008 CX-7 and a 2008 Mazda 3, both used cars that are paid for.
Two days after the election, I drove up to Orlando in the Mazda 3 to help Megan with Wine Walk. These events are always fun and this time, helped me to overcome the PTSD and grief I felt about the election. It’s Orlando’s monthly event where people set up exhibits to sell art, jewelry, massages, photos, and whatever to people who pay 10 bucks to do the walk and drink all they want at the various restaurants and bars along the route. Megan sets up at a dog bakery, so she has a built-in audience for her pet portraits.
I drove my car, the Mazda 3, which I named Synchronicity the day we bought it eight years ago. Megan’s car was in such bad shape that I ended up leaving her my car and drove hers back home. I felt her car was no longer safe to drive. Two days later, Rob and I drove that car to a Mazda dealer 15 miles south, in Delray, in search of a Mazda to buy or lease.
Car dealerships are not where I typically choose to spend my Sundays or any other day of the week. But this experience was fascinating from start to finish. Our sales person was a guy from Queens, an ex-cop who’d gotten caught up in a drug sting with some Mafia dudes and ended up doing six years in a federal facility. He knew some of the people for whom we’ve ghostwritten books over the years. He also knew a lot about cars and affirmed our original intent: to lease rather than buy. I asked him what he thought about the election and he made a sour face, then shrugged.
“Scary, but we’ll see.”
During our test drive of the car, I asked if we could stop somewhere so I could get a bite to eat for lunch. He got a kick out of that. “Well, this is a first,” he said, and directed me to a place that had great barbecue chicken sandwiches.
We got a $500 trade-in value for Megan’s car, about what we expected, and many hours later, ended up in the business manager’s office to seal the deal. Herb, a Jamaican, was a total delight. We talked at some length about the election – his shock and angst, that he’d hardly slept since election night, and how it had divided his family. But Herb had faith that something good would come of all this and I marveled at that.
Our sales guy took us through the paces of the technology in our new lease. Keyless. Bluetooth. Sirius radio. Built-in GPS with maps. Blind spot sensors. Backup vision that shows what’s behind you. For those of you with new cars, this is probably laughable. But hey, we’ve been driving eight-year-old cars that have none of this, cars so different they’re comparable to the early Radio Shack computers with only external drive versus the newest Mac computers.
Off we headed for home, fiddling with the radio, entertainment, Bluetooth and navigation, and with this keyless thing. “Hey, do you have the main key?” Rob asked.
I didn’t. I had the spare our sales guy had handed me that had a little metal thing attached that held the key code in the event we lost the main key. “You must have it.”
Rob swore that he didn’t. He repeatedly emptied his pockets. I emptied my purse several times. Nothing. Herb had told us these keys cost $400 and had asked if we wanted to buy insurance to cover the loss of a key and a bunch of other stuff. We had opted out. I was now had some doubts about the whole thing. Rob called our sales guy, asking if he maybe had the key. He didn’t.
When we got home, I dumped everything out of my purse, searched every nook and cranny, every zippered compartment. The only key I had was the one with the metal tag on it. Rob and I kept going over the events in the parking lot when we’d been going through the techno stuff on the car. I didn’t remember ever seeing the main key. And yet, I when I went through my bag again, I found it tucked into one of the crannies I know was empty before.
Trickster? Had it gone the same place socks go in the dryer and been returned?
The next day, I got a call from Herb. The date on the final papers was for last month and could he stop by our place with new papers, with the right dates?
Here’s where it got really strange. Herb arrived and for the next 90 minutes, the three of us connected on the level where Rob and I live most of the time. Some years ago during surgery, Herb died. When he was revived, he began having vivid, precognitive dreams. In three of these dreams, he saw numbers that he played in the lottery and won. The largest, several years ago, was more than two hundred grand.
But the lottery wins are just part of a much larger picture for him. “My life has been weird,” he said. “No one believes me when I tell them about the dreams I have, so I always call my daughter the day after so that someone else knows about it.” Then when the event unfolds, his daughter acts as his verification, his record.
I wished we’d met Herb while we were writing Sensing the Future. We’re going to get together with him and his kids in December, when they visit, and we’re eager to hear more of his experiences. His parting words? “Now I understand why the date on the these papers was wrong. You guys made my evening!”
And he made ours.
Yes, I love my new leased car. We named it White Crows Tulpas, after our respective novels now making the rounds.