Giddy Gratitude for my Garage

snow saabToday, both of my kids are likely to experience snow and/or freezing rain. Both have cars. Neither one has a garage. So I’m appreciating the little luxuries . . . like a garage.

When my husband and I first got married, we lived in an apartment complex. No garage or carport. When we moved to our first house, the one-car garage came with a heavy wooden door that I couldn’t lift — and no remote. My husband’s car was only a year old. Mine was probably 10. Guess who got the garage?

Living in the Midwest, that means I have had many years of experience in the miserable task of de-icing, scraping and clearing snow from one’s vehicle. I, unfortunately, am experienced in the qualities and pros and cons of a variety of scraping techniques and tools. For example, a long-handled scraper with brush on one side is, of course, essential for a small person who cannot reach the middle of the windshield without leaning into the snow and ice covering the hood of the car. For solid ice, I’ve found that a metal scraper is more effective than a hard plastic scraper. I know that the trash bag or cardboard windshield covering will only work if there is no wind. There were those years when I must’ve had four or five different scraping tools of various materials and quality rattling around in my car during the winter months. At the time there was no such thing as a heated scraper. The most newfangled, techie tool I ever had was a scraper sewn into a glove-like bag that was designed to help keep the working hand a little warmer.

I know the frustration of leaving work to find my car covered in ice or snow, adding many minutes to an already tedious commute. I know the agony of standing in the bitter cold attempting to open a car door so that I could start the car, hoping to pump a little warm air onto the windshield, only to find said door frozen shut. Oh, the misery that winter can bring!

So today while I’m feeling sorry for my kids, I’m feeling a giddy kind of gratitude for my garage. (A little adversity builds, character, right?!) It’s now been almost 25 years since I’ve had to park my car outside on a regular basis! Ah, the glee of waking on a snowy morning and not being faced with task of digging out. The blessing of driving down the street with a perfectly clear windshield and brake lights that can be seen, in a car that’s not spewing snow at others drivers!

In our current home, we have a two-car garage. And two cars. We also have a bunch of other junk in the garage – garden clippers, gas cans, rakes, shovels, bicycles, etc. It’s a tight squeeze. I have to warn guests getting into my car on the passenger side to be careful that they don’t end up with a hatchet in their head. But until I move to Palm Springs, any or all of these implements will be kicked to the curb before I give up my space in the garage. There’s no going back!!

Sending good wishes to everyone dealing with snow and ice this week. Stay safe!

Is your car sheltered? Any tips or tricks for clearing snow and ice?

Personal safety . . . a case for keys

keysI had my car in for routine maintenance last week, and was given a brand-new model to drive while mine was in the shop. This new car, an updated model of my own, had all the top bells and whistles, including keyless entry. You just put your foot on the brake and push a button. Easy.

Yes, it was simple, but it got me to thinking, what’s so inconvenient about a key? Then I took it one step further and started thinking, no way. I want my key. In fact, all women should want a key, and they should have it in their hand as they approach their car or a store in a parking lot.

A couple of things bother me about this keyless entry. First, it means a woman only has to have the key near her – say tucked inside the pocket of her jeans or in her purse. Once she gets close to the car, BINGO! the doors unlock. This does not seem safe to me. Sure, it gives her hands-free access, but it gives that to anyone around her as well.

Additionally, if those keys aren’t in her hand, they can’t be used as self protection, and she doesn’t have access to the panic button on the key fob. Not good.

I recently had the opportunity to drive my daughter’s car, too. Her key folds into the fob. Again, this is convenient for carrying the key in a pocket. It’s not as bad as the keyless entry, but still, it means she can approach the car and unlock it without having the sharp point of the key exposed. After considering this, I’ve advised her to always release the key and carry it in such a way that it could be used if she were approached, attacked, etc.

A few years ago, we had a very sad incident occur in our area. A young woman was abducted from a store parking lot in daylight. In her own car she was taken to another location where she was raped and murdered. Any little bit of self protection that could potentially help a woman in such a situation is so important. Ladies, don’t trade convenience for personal safety. Keep your key! And keep it handy. It could do more than start your car.