My car has been making this odd clanking noise, halfway between a thunk and a rattle. There’s no apparent pattern to the noise, which seems to originate from the driver’s side, somewhere near the floor. It’s caused me to pull over several times to check if my tyre picked up a nail, or if some unknown car part was hanging off the chassis (I had to look that word up so hopefully it means what I think it means). My knowledge of car trouble is limited to “Oh, crap, how many more Ks can I eke out of this empty tank before I get to the petrol station?” We used to have a very kind mechanic neighbour whom I would just ring for help at times like this, but he moved north (probably to get away from my ignorant phone calls). So I was on my own.
After a week of this odd noise punctuating my private mobile karaoke sessions on the way to school pickup, I decided the time had come to do something. So I told my husband.
“My car is making a weird noise,” I said.
“You mean *my* car,” he replied.
Besides the point, but yes, the car I drive now was *his* car for a year until *my* genteel old station wagon decided that aircon was an optional feature, and I somehow convinced my husband that we needed to swap cars since I’m the one transporting children and they can’t be expected to swelter in the summer heat with the windows down. They NEED air conditioning. So now I drive *his* car with the aircon at full blast all the time, and he drives *my* car with the windows down and occasionally grumbles about it.
ANYWAY. “Are you going to check out the noise?” I asked him. “Because I don’t know what it is.”
“Have you checked the tyres? Looked underneath? Opened the bonnet?” he asked.
“Yes, of course,” I said indignantly, meaning, NO, of course not, I don’t want to get dirty. I started looking for the best car parts online although I wasn’t sure what was needed to carry out the repair. I had no idea what was wrong with my car!
“Well, I guess we’ll have to take it to a mechanic,” he decided.
I left the conversation there, because I was hoping he would take it upon himself to arrange the mechanic and the taking of the car and the time off work to do so, thereby excusing me from any responsibility whatsoever.
The very next day, I was chauffeuring Miss 13 somewhere when I heard the noise again. “Grumble grumble grumble noise grumble grumble car,” I grumbled under my breath.
Miss 13 piped up, “Yeah, I looked but I can’t find it.”
“Can’t find what?” I asked her, confused.
“The marble under the back seat.”
“WHAT MARBLE,” I commanded sternly.
“Well, we were playing and we found a big marble, but then we dropped it and it went under the seat and now we can’t get it,” she said.
Bit by bit, the story came out. She and her little brother were supposed to be cleaning out the car, but instead they were playing in it, which explains why there are just as many cracker crumbs and empty drink bottles back there as there were before they “cleaned out the car” and subsequently got pocket money from me for doing nothing. And they found a big marble. I’m unclear on where this marble came from. Was it always in the car? Was it in someone’s pockets? Did fairies leave it behind? However it got there, they dropped it somewhere in the back seat and it’s been rolling around for weeks, making me think the car was falling apart or at least about to break down in spectacular fashion on the motorway during rush hour.
So there’s a marble in my car and no one can get it out. It rolls around, clanking and thunking against car parts for which I have no names because I barely know what a chassis is. Perhaps someday it will roll itself out where one of us can get it. Until then, I’m going to assume that any noise my car is making is something to do with my kids. And marbles. At least that’ll be cheaper than a visit to the mechanic…
Editor, Tots to Teens