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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Safe Places

Today we took our car, Mae Mobley, to have her biennial emissions test. In the state of Colorado, most vehicles are required to have a test every two years to ensure that they aren't producing an excessive amount of pollutants in their exhaust. If your car doesn't pass, you can't renew your license plates until it does. Those of you who live here, or have lived here, know that our Rocky Mountains are more than tall, beautiful, and snow-capped in the winter (okay, some of them are snow-capped all year). They also act as a giant wall that does weird things to the flow of wind, air, and weather systems. This includes trapping pollutants that might otherwise be carried away on the wind. That, and the fact that we in Colorado love Nature, makes the emissions tests part of our car licensing system here.

Oh, I bet you might not even have been wondering about the emissions testing. You're still thinking, "Why is their car named Mae Mobley?" Well, for a couple of reasons, in fact. One pays homage to tradition. For many years, it was common to give a ship a female name. This sort of carried into giving female names to things ranging from World War II bomber planes (does Memphis Belle ring any bells for you?) to the family car. Second, the source of the name itself. Before we acquired her, our car was living in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson, Mississippi is also the setting of one of our favorite books, and a darn good movie, The Help. One of the main characters in the book, Aibileen, takes care of a little girl named Mae Mobley as part of her maid duties. Mae Mobley is a bit chunky, and she has a nearly bald patch on the back of her head, but she is a very good girl.

Mae Mobley's mother is not very affectionate with her, but Aibileen loves her little girl. "You is kind. You is smart. You is important," are the words Aibileen tells Mae Mobley every day. Like the girl in the book, our car is not the most beautiful one on the block. She is nineteen years old and spent many years in Minnesota before moving around and ending up in Mississippi, and she has a goodish amount of rust to show for it. Her clear coat keeps wanting to come off the roof. But she has taken good care of us, and she is important to us. So we decided that it would be perfect to name her Mae Mobley. She is kind. She is smart. She is important.

When we were heading out to go get Mae Mo tested, our next-door neighbor happened to come out at the same time. We chatted for a few minutes and asked her about an incident that she had with her car. Just before Thanksgiving, she got out of her car and started to carry several bags of groceries into her apartment. She planned to come back to the car to bring in a few more things, and left her car unlocked for what was supposed to be a few minutes. Well, one thing led to another, and she completely forgot about the few things in the car. When she got into her car the next day, she discovered that a couple of people had, shall we say, enjoyed the hospitality of her car. They smoked some cigarettes, leaving a few burn holes in her leather upholstery, along with some cigarette butts in the car. Someone sat on the passenger side and ate part of a sandwich, leaving about half behind as well. 

The most disturbing thing, though, was that she had left some mail in the car, and it was now opened. Whoever had been sitting in the car opened and read her bank statements. We asked today if she had changed her accounts, and she said that everything had been taken care of, and then she started to laugh. She told us that she's been checking the accounts frequently to make sure nothing strange happens, but that she keeps forgetting the new account information. What makes it worse is that she wrote all of the new information down and put it in a safe place. All three of us started laughing then. I tend to put things in safe places, too, and have been doing so for years. The only problem is that they are such safe places that I can't ever find them again, unless it's purely by accident.

Linda was relieved when we told her this. She said that she thought that it was because she was getting older and her memory wasn't as good as it used to be. I assured her that for years I've gone looking for things that I put in a safe place, and not been able to find them. Actually, about two or three months after I give up on the search, and when I no longer need the item in question, it will turn up. Usually this is on an occasion when I am looking for another item that has been left in a safe place. I will exclaim, "That's where you were when I needed you so desperately!" Then I move it to another safe place. I make sure it's a good one, a logical spot to put a whatsis, a spot where it will be easy to locate when it is needed again. Who am I trying to fool? It may never be seen again. Wow! These really are safe places!