Over Labor Day weekend, Diamondqueen and the family got a spanking new 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan. We were excited to explore all its fancy bells and whistles, such as a video screen to show what’s behind the van while backing up, middle seats so the van can hold eight people instead of seven, cup holders everywhere, a set-up that allows Diamondqueen to plug in her iPod for in-van listening pleasure (a deal-breaker as far as Diamondqueen was concerned).
The minivan also has automatic sliding rear doors. You merely lift the handle and the door will open or close. There’s also an interior button on each side of the minivan that you can push from both the front and back seats. No more tugging at a stubborn van door. No more unfastening the seatbelt to reach back and heave the door shut. Simply lean forward and press a button. Such a wonderful feature!
Unfortunately, those doors have proven to be extras fraught with peril. Three times now I’ve nearly gotten squashed in one of those things.
The first time, J.Hooligan pushed the door button from the front seat without checking to make sure the door was clear. All of a sudden I sensed, rather than saw, the van door gliding toward me like a guillotine blade. I yiped and leaped back just as the door slid into place. I do think it was an accident on J.’s part, but that didn’t stop him from thinking my near-decapitation was delightfully cool.
The second time, S.Hooligan lifted the door handle while I was still leaning into the van, gathering up her junk. Again, if my reflexes had deteriorated as quickly as many of my other faculties, it could have been painful and ugly. Gee, all those bloodstains on that nice, new upholstery. I wasn’t clear whether S. did it on purpose or not. I couldn’t get a straight answer out of her because she was too amused by the near catastrophe.
Today was the latest, and worst, incident, and wouldn’t you know Diamondqueen was to blame. I say “worst” because this time I suffered some physical discomfort. I’d just pushed my seat back into place after allowing S.Hooligan to climb into the backseat, and I was about to hoist myself aboard. I heard a sudden, “Oooh, oooh, oooooh!!!!” from Diamondqueen and realized the door was about to squeeze me like a vise. Diamondqueen pulled on the door handle but the thing neither stopped nor reversed, but continued its slow advance on my person. I alternated screaming obscenities and yelping in pain as the door exerted its pressure. Just when I was sure I was about to suffer a nipple-ectomy, the door paused, then reversed itself.
For a second I massaged my sore breast and the spot on my ribs where I’m sure I’ll have a bruise by tomorrow. Then I unleashed a series of F-bombs in Diamondqueen’s direction, which only seemed to increase her hysterical laughter. When we were at last all buckled safely into the van, my breast still throbbing, Diamondqueen offered a half-hearted apology, which fell apart as another spasm of tear-inducing chortling seized her. She was looking forward to telling That Poor Man about it, and no doubt it’s continued to brighten her day every time the incident comes to mind.
I say there’s something effing wrong with those doors. Is it just her van or do all Siennas with automatic sliding doors behave that way? What if a child got trapped? S.Hooligan, for example, is so skinny she seemingly could be snapped in two by that contraption. Of course, I’m pinning total blame on the minivan, when obviously operator error plays a big part in all three incidents.
Which means I’m screwed, and someday the van is going to win. At least it will give everyone something to laugh about at my funeral.
NUDGE: What vehicle seems (or seemed) to have it in for you? What does it do? Does the engine die during left turns in front of heavy oncoming traffic? Does a faulty hood lock give you guillotine paranoia? Do your tires go flat only when you’re in the worst possible neighborhood and your cell phone has no service?
Write about such a vehicle and describe its dangers, perceived or real. It doesn’t have to be a car, van, or truck; bicycles, lawn mowers, earth movers, even motorized scooters and wheelchairs count.