It all started on Sunday, the day I returned home from the beach. There were, of course, boogie boards and beach chairs in the trunk of my car from a weekend of excessive fun in the sun. The drive home was a pleasant one, though, since the kid and I were already exhausted from a weekend of body surfing. All we did was ride home rather quietly with very little conversation. Only the air conditioning was running. Not even the radio was on.
The unusual smell in my car didn’t start until after I had unloaded all of our belongings. Realizing that I had left the beach-coated boards in my car and baking in the direct sunlight for a few hours while Elle and I were at the alligator farm, I immediately came to the conclusion that I just needed to buy a new air freshener.
Actually, I didn’t really come to that conclusion as much as I just decided that I was too lazy to deal with the odor altogether and figured I’d cover it up with a hanging car freshener Magic Tree until it went away on its own. I hear that usually works.
NEWSFLASH: It’s a LIE!
On Monday afternoon, the smell seemed to be get progressively stronger – like a sweet, sickly aroma that crept into the car whenever I turned on the a/c. It reminded me of a rotting pile of dead
bodies leaves or something, which wasn’t a crazy thought because I had been hauling approximately 85 tons of garden soil in my trunk on Sunday night.
Hey, did you catch that? I totally just talked myself out of actually having to do something about that odor in my car again! Because it’ll go away on its own. Because garden soil and beach sand can leave that kind of rotting, putrid scent in your trunk. Because the trunk is nowhere near the air conditioning ventilation system, which is where the smell of dead body is coming from.
And still, I did nothing except willed it to go away. Guess what!? That doesn’t always work.
Yesterday was just a smidge harder to get through than Monday. My plan of attack (otherwise known as denial) only made me queasy, yet I was determined to make the smell disappear by way of magic wishes. I couldn’t justify a trip to the mechanic when I knew in my heart of hearts that if something had actually crawled inside of my car and died, it would eventually fall out. Gravity always wins. Nevermind that there is a maze of tubes and pipes and machinery in my little Hyundai. Logic and denial are not good friends…remember – MAGIC WISHES.
The turning point came this morning. Finally, right? I needed to defrost the window and clear off the condensation but the very second I turned on the ventilation system…HOLY Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!!!! I’m surprised I didn’t start retching. I’m surprised the kid didn’t start retching. It was bad…it was so, so, so bad! And after I chucked it up to getting what I deserved for being so lazy about it, I rolled down all the car windows, closed off all the vent openings, and drove to work at 80mph with the wind blowing my little car all over the place.
Thank goodness for a nearby brush fire that blanketed the area with that nasty wet, burnt wood smell. Trust me, it was like breathing fresh air. And it covered up my car’s dead body smell. Do they make hanging car freshener Magic Trees in wet, burnt wood smell? I’d totally recommend buying them for this reason alone. In the 3-pack, of course.
I called Goodyear at 9 o’clock. Desperate for help, I begged them for an answer and for a quote. Rip my damn car apart, piece by piece, until you find the dead animal that crawled inside! Pleeeeease!! I’ll pay ANYTHING! It’s Florida and it’s 90 degrees by 10am and I NEED AIR CONDITIONING!
I drove straight to the mechanic after work. Windows down, you know it!
Three guys looked at it. Each of them was subjected to the shocking pang of air conditioning ventfunk yet not a single one of them could pinpoint the smell.
They all shook their heads.
GASP! That left only one thing.
They suggested I find a place to have dinner because they figured, worst-case scenario, they might have to take apart my dashboard to pull out the, uh…offending body *hurl* and it could take some time. Within 45 minutes, my beloved car was ready for pickup. I headed back to the mechanic already resigned to the fact that I would have to take out a loan to pay for this repair/body recovery/WTF??
$90.03. Not a few hundred dollars to dissect the insides of my Hyundai? Nope, ninety dollars and three whole cents. That’s what I paid for them to install a new driver’s side headlight (you know…since I was already there) and an in-cabin air filter…that I apparently had failed to replace for the last 6 months.
I was instructed to bring the car back if the filter replacement didn’t solve the problem. There is some kind of costly procedure that can be done on the ventilation system in cases like this in which a liquid cleaner is pumped through the car’s a/c path…like a Lysol, for cars.
As I marched outside to take my car home, one mechanic held the door open for me (since all of my strength had been sapped from fighting with the 3-day old offending odor), he smiled and said, “I hope it’s all peaches and cream in there now, ma’am!”
Aaaaah, peaches and cream. Now that’s a hanging car freshener Magic Tree scent I would go for.
I slipped into the driver’s seat and set my purse on the floorboards. Elle slipped into her chair next to me. Honestly, I was scared to death to turn on the car. I noticed the a/c was already manually set for the lowest setting and all the vents had been opened. Sure, I could have reversed all of that before turning the ignition, therefore saving myself from having to inhale the smell of rotting mule corpse right after taking in an entire pound of Panda Express’ orange chicken entrée. But, you know, it was time for me to man up, to take the hit, to risk being bowled over by a single molecule of stench. So I cranked it! And…
Wait…what is that? What…wha? Wh?????!!!! *sniff sniff*
BY GOD I THINK THEY FIXED IT!!!!
Elle was slightly embarrassed by my hootin’ and hollerin’ – all out of relief and happiness. My car no longer smelled like the ass of a…well, of an ass. I stuck my face right up to those vents and inhaled so deeply, I started to get lightheaded! It was air. AIR CONDITIONING AIR!
It was SPECTACULAR!
The mechanic who’d held the door open for me walked past with another customer. I caught his eye and gave him a smile and a thumbs up.
“That was it?” he yelled.
I nodded vigorously and stuck both thumbs up in the air, you know…for emphasis.
“ That was the problem? Awww,girl!! It’s all peaches and cream, baby. PEACHES AND CREAM!”