Throughout my driving career, I’ve owned three Volkswagens. The first car I bought (and financed) on my own was a Volkswagen Jetta VR-6. It was cherry red, had a manual stick shift, and could reach 80 m.p.h. in second gear. I bought another Jetta several years later, and it was not as fast, or fun, as the cherry red one. Then, I bought the car I fell in love with. It was a convertible Volkswagen Beetle. I had no kids, the BEST tan, and the wind blew through my hair the very minute when the temperature reached 65 degrees. Eventually, I would have a baby and realized I couldn’t fit a car seat in the back of a convertible VW Bug. We could put the top down and sit the car seat in, then get in the car and put the top back up. This was not convenient on days where it rained, snowed, or any inclement weather (all non-top-down days.) We traded in the fun convertible.
I learned several things while I owned these Volkswagens. I learned how to red line my speedometer and peel out my tires. But, the biggest lesson these cars taught me was about lights. Each time one of them hit a certain number on the odometer, they would immediately light up like a Christmas tree.
There were certain lights you could ignore. The ‘check engine’ light, ignore it until it starts to blink. When it blinks on and off, something is really wrong. The ‘airbag’ light, ignore it until you need an inspection sticker. Pay an extra $50 to have it turned off, get your sticker, and by the time you arrive home, it will have lit back up. I was never in any wrecks to see if the airbag light was telling the truth or lying. Brake light will flash and beep at you. The brake light will annoy the ever loving daylights out of your soul, and you will eventually need new brakes.
The one light you can’t ignore is a Volkswagen’s battery light. This light means serious business. It means you only have a few hours to have it checked out, or else you will be stranded. I learned this lesson somewhere along the way with my second Jetta.
When it lit up on the navy blue convertible Beetle, I headed immediately to the auto parts store where the car died. The nice man at NAPA had a machine to jump start it and check the battery. I enthusiastically opened the hood, and then we stared at the engine. Old VW Beetles used to have their engines in the trunk.
Newer Volkswagen models don’t look like this, at all. The engines are now in the front and covered in plastic. The plastic factory puked and made a Volkswagen engine. The battery in a convertible Volkswagen Beetle has its own plastic cover. It is also crammed way down in the engine, because it’s a Bug and it has to have an extra motor to make the top go up and down. NAPA man and me were pretty clueless about where the battery was actually buried in the plastic covered engine. Due to this fact, we didn’t know how to hook up the machine in order to correct my stranded situation.
In our baffled dire state, a man walks up. He knew all about Volkswagens. He complained what a ‘pain in the ass they were.’ But, he found the battery and the car started. Throughout this situation, I kept seeing the below commercial in my head, and I thought to myself how kind strangers were.
Then the NAPA man said, “No, we cannot change your battery. You’ll have to go to a Volkswagen dealership for that.” And the strange man who helped us asked me for a ride. I was riding high on the commercial about being kind, and I wanted to be kind too. So, I let a strange man in my car; in my tiny, cramped VW Bug.
At this point, my intuition lights began to go off. I don’t ignore those. Never ignore your internal intuition lights.
Strange man asked, “You got any money?”
“Five dollars.” I told him and grabbed my purse.
“You need to take me to your bank and get more money.” I am not comprehending what is happening. I am not scared, I remained calm. I wanted to believe this is a kind person.
“I don’t like banks. I’m sorry, I don’t have a debit card.” I apologized.
“Then just give me your five.” I handed him my five dollars and he got out of the car.
I hurriedly drove away. Obviously, the strange, now unkind, man didn’t need a ride anymore. It took me about three to four blocks, then it hit me. I just got robbed. I actually apologized to the robber for not having a bank card. He only got five bucks, but it took five bucks for me to learn two lessons. Commercials aren’t real life, and don’t let strange men in your car.