Friday, May 18, 2012

Poltergeist Car?

Before I start this story, I want you to know that I like my car. I really do. It's a middle-aged but not decrepit Nissan. I bought it used. It has a nice sound system, a leather interior, and lots of conveniences like heated seats and electric door-locks and electric windows and electric mirrors and a sliding sun roof and--

you get the picture.

I remember thinking it was getting muggy when I arrived at work yesterday. I rolled up my windows and locked my car before I headed inside.

Or at least I thought I did.

When I finished work for the day, I headed for my car to pick up my CSA order on my way home. I noticed the passenger-side window was rolled completely down. I stopped, startled.

Had someone broken in? It's a good neighborhood, but still...

I looked around for signs of broken glass. Having found none, I cautiously looked inside. Nothing seemed missing.

Perplexed, I went around to the driver's side. That window was down, too, and the driver's side door was unlocked.

I remember thinking I must have had a senior moment. Maybe I had actually left the windows down due to the muggy conditions rather than locking up tight like I remembered? I got in the car, rolled up the windows, locked the doors, and headed to pick up my order.

That's when all hell broke loose.

As I was heading down Battlefield Boulevard, I thought I heard my car doors unlock--click!.

But I hadn't touched the controls!

"Must be my imagination," I thought. I was watching the traffic, so I reached over and locked the doors again without too much thought. But I decided to pay a little more attention to the goings-on within my car and not just around it.

About two blocks later--CLICK! They definitely unlocked themselves again. I had not touched the controls.

Was this some student's idea of a prank? I looked around. No, there's no student, however brilliantly geeky and prankstery, that could pull this off  as I drove down the road at forty miles per hour, especially at such a distance from the school.

I have one of those remote-control radio-controlled door-unlocking key chains, the kind with a panic-alarm button on it. Could I have accidentally set that off as I drove down the road? Could someone nearby be unlocking their door with a remote with the same frequency?

I  looked around a bit, trying to find a logical explanation. Finding none, I resisted the urge to hit the panic button on my own remote. I was feeling panic, but I somehow didn't think that pushing the button would help. I turned onto Cedar Road toward my pick-up point for my order. I locked the doors and pulled into the lot. I parked. I turned off the engine, made sure I'd rolled up all the windows. I reached for the door handle. Before I could touch it--

WHIR!!! As fast as they could, both front windows rolled down by themselves. With the engine off. And I hadn't touched anything.

Startled, I fought back the urge to scream. Could I be dreaming? Was my car haunted? The windows were open, the evening was starting to cool off quickly, but I began to shiver with more than the cold.

I called my best friend, who also happens to be my husband. He was at work for several more hours. He answered his cell.

"Hi, Mary; what's up?"

"Hello, Don? Are we really talking right now? Or are we... am I dreaming?"

He paused to answer. "I think we're both awake and talking right now."

"Oh, Shit! I thought I was having a nightmare!"

"What's going on?"

"I think a poltergeist has taken over my car."

Don is a retired U.S. Navy submariner. He doesn't panic easily. I'm sure if anyone could calmly face down a poltergeist, HE could. It's one of the reasons I called. His reaction was calm but concerned. He told me to tell him exactly what the car was doing. So I did.

"It sounds like an electrical problem, probably in the driver's side door," he said.

I was mostly relieved but a little unhappy with that explanation. An electrical problem, especially one this weird, sounds expensive. An honest-to-goodness demonstrably haunted car, on the other hand, could bring me fame and fortune and television appearances, not necessarily in that order.

If I lived that long.

I shuddered.

I finished my conversation, rolled up the windows, locked the car up, and went inside to pick up my order. I was gone maybe ten minutes.

When I got back to the car, the driver's side door was unlocked, and the passenger window was rolled down.

On the drive home, the car continued to unlock itself and the windows to roll down. At least I felt calmer, since Don had half-convinced me that there was some logical explanation for its behavior. Something about a short-circuit. I wished he weren't working late.

I got the car home, but even after it sat in my driveway it wouldn't stay locked or rolled up. And the sky was threatening to rain. My son and I did our best to cover it up with a tarp, and I lugged anything valuable into the house.

Don pulled a fuse out when he got in and today a co- worker put it back in. Pulling the fuse caused the mad car-behaviors to stop, but it also pulled the plug on my headlights, taillights, brake lights, and blinkers.

Not a good idea, especially if you know anything about traffic in this part of Virginia.

So the car has been behaving better while I've been at work today. I plan to get it worked on as soon as I can. And the haunted-car mystery has been solved. I'm at home, it's getting late, and I plan to check on my car one last time before I head to bed.

But I'm afraid to look.

***Update: the above story was true, and we found a solution that did not involve an exorcist. The story above is so much fun, I was reluctant to share the solution. But the savings of over $200 off of what the dealer was going to charge me is too good not to post. Click for the solution.

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