Dear Kid,

The second meanest thing you can say to someone is “May you have adventurous travels.” The meanest thing you can say to someone is “May you have unplanned adventure in your travels. And be fed kale.”

Driving 609 miles should be long, boring, and uneventful. Our trip home was long. Not so much on boring and uneventful.

First we had the joy of the whiney Puppy. Not sure if he whines because he’s happy to be in the car or because he’s stressed. Either way, not enjoyable. It only took an hour and a half for him to settle down.

Then there was the weather. “Not to worry,” said your father, “We won’t have any rain on our drive home.” This was correct except for being entirely wrong. Mid-rainstorm, Dad revised his forecast. “We won’t encounter any snow this trip.” Brilliant.

Also during the rainstorm (just to keep things interesting), a bunch of dashboard lights went on. FACT: Lights are lovely on a Christmas tree. Not on a dashboard.

About half an hour later, Dad said, “You know there are lights on the dashboard.”

“Mmmm,” I replied, “I’m hoping they reset when we turn off the car.”

For the record, auto mechanics love me; especially if they have bills to pay.

“What do those particular lights mean?” asked Dad.

“How should I know?” I answered. “My job is to drive this thing. Besides, they can’t be bad; the car’s only 3 ½ years old.”

Faultless logic, no?

Dad opened the car’s manual and began reading:

If this light illuminates while driving, never brake suddenly and keep driving straight ahead while gradually reducing speed. Then slowly pull off the road to a safe place. Otherwise an accident involving serious vehicle damage and serious personal injury could occur. If this light still illuminates while driving after adjusting the tire pressure, a tire may have significant damage and a fast leak that causes the tire to lose air rapidly.

“Wait, I have a flat tire?”

“It didn’t say ‘flat tire’. It said ‘a tire may have significant damage and a fast leak.’”

“That sounds like ‘flat tire’ to me. But it’s not riding like there’s a flat tire.”


“Never mind,” said Dad. “I read the wrong thing.”

Oh good.

More reading.

Dad determined that the ABS braking system wasn’t working. He figured this out because one of the little lights said “ABS”.

“So what does that mean?” I asked.

Dad explained, “The computer won’t help you stop. You’re on old fashioned braking.”

“So I can keep driving?”


“Good. Because that was my plan.” And I did.

Slightly east of Buffalo, we stopped to fill the car’s tank, empty ours, and switch drivers. Dad took over the wheel…and the car refused, absolutely REFUSED, to shift out of Park.

For the record, you can’t actually drive the car when it’s in park.

Then he told us NOT to shift into park No. Matter. What. DearKidLoveMom.comDad turned off the engine, turned it back on, and tried again. Rinse and repeat. Nothing changed.

We called the Subaru Service Department. Dad and ChrisTheServiceDude had a lovely conversation. We tried this and that at his suggestion. Then he told Dad to really, really, really press hard on the brake pedal and that let us shift. Then he told us NOT to shift into park No. Matter. What.

Amazingly, that’s not the end of the story. Part II tomorrow.

Love, Mom