Curiosity Satisfied

The Mini is Donna’s daily driver and it is extensively “her” car, but sometimes when we run to the store on weeknights or on weekends she’ll let me drive it. It is kind of like a luxury Miata with a hardtop and it is not unenjoyable to drive. Sometimes I think maybe it is time to ditch the Miata and become a two Mini family, one for her that we leave alone and one for me I can add different wheels, sticky tires, a slightly noisy exhaust, etc., etc.

On the route of my normal drive to and from the Valve Store I pass a Bail Bonds office (the county jail is about 2 miles further up the road.) They often have a used car or two sitting out front. I imagine it is something they have taken as bond and the person subsequently skipped town. About a month ago, they added a 1st generation Mini Cooper S to the 1989 Camaro Z28, a 90’s vintage Camry, an 18′ fishing boat and a small backhoe. It is Electric Blue with a white roof, mirrors and hood stripes with a sunroof and looks just like this only without the driving lights. Every time I pass by it, I think, “Man that is neat looking little car.” After a half dozen or so passes I started to wonder how much they wanted for that thing, knowing that unless it was under fifty bucks Donna would not let me bring it home like some stray puppy, although the thing is as cute as one.

Well, last week I gave them a call, just to see what they wanted for it. A woman answered the phone and said, “I didn’t know anything about the stuff for sale out front. Donnie2 does, but he doesn’t come in until around ten.” I said, “I’ll try back then.” Forgot all about it later. Remembered on the drive home when I passed by, too late. When I saw it the following day I told myself I’d call around 11. When I did, the same lady said, “Oh you missed him, he just left to apprehend someone.” After that I told myself that that was an omen and to forget about the car. And I did.

Until this past Monday on my way to work. It was still there. Now I’m thinking it is just taunting me and that’s like a 15-yard penalty in the NFL now. I started to rationalize that I might be able to get Donna to let me buy it if it was in real nice shape, had around 70 or 80-thousand miles on it and was like only three thousand bucks. I had to run an errand mid-day on Wednesday this week and my return trip to work just happened to take me right by the bail bonds place. So, I stopped in.

When I entered the building, there was the phone answering woman. I asked if someone who know anything about the Mini Cooper that was out front. She shouted, “Tom!”3 When Tom came out from the back I asked him what year, how much and how many miles. He replied, “2005, $5,000 and I’m not sure. Let me get the key and we’ll go out and look.” I’m thinking 2005 sounds nice (2nd to last year of the 1st gen, so everything would be all sorted out) and $5,000 sounds high, but I have no clue, so internet research will be required. I grab a business card and a pen from the counter as we head outside because I want to write down the VIN so I can see the configuration it came with from the factory. When he opens the driver’s door to get in I get a peek inside and the first doubt starts to materialize through the fog of desire. I see the VIN sticker on the door jamb and I’m copying it down when he calls the mileage out to me as one hundred sixty-five thousand three hundred and twenty-six. Jason with a bloody kitchen knife just appeared from nowhere. I almost drop the pen, but hold on long enough to finish writing the last 4 digits.

He asks if I want to sit in it and to finish being polite I do, (it is not running right now because the coolant overflow tank is cracked and will be replaced) but there is no way I would buy this even if Donna had given me $5k that morning and said go get it. It had leather sport seats and while the leather wasn’t worn out or torn anywhere, it was sloppy loose on the cushions, you could still see the impressions of Tom’s butt who had just got out of it. Plus, remember back when we first bought Donna’s Mini, I posted photos of a side by side comparisons of the dashboards and said that it hadn’t changed that much since the 2003 we didn’t like? Well the dash in conjunction with the overly busy looking door panels made the inside very unappealing, I can see why we didn’t like the looks back in 2003.

Curiosity satisfied.

Scratch-Scratch-Scratch-Scratch- Scratch-Scratch-Scratch- Scratch-Scratch-Scratch

Tuesday’s Miata noise wasn’t the only strange noise I encountered that day.

Sitting on the couch, waiting to see if my Spin ID was selected and a contestant on Wheel of Fortune would become my Secret Santa, we heard an odd noise from, what sounded like, the dishwasher. It was a very rhythmic sort of a cross between a rumbling, a knock and the sound of a high pressure spray drumming on something as it rotated. Donna jumped up, opened the dishwasher and removed a cookie tray in there that looked like a possibility. She started the dishwasher back up and came back into the living room. No sooner had she sat down, the noise started over.

This time we both got up. About halfway to the kitchen we realized that the noise was coming from the back hallway, that connects the bedrooms. Careful listening led us to the floor at the the entrance to the middle bedroom. The sound was now recognizable as scratching and it sounded quite loud and urgent. Pounding on the floor near there would make the sound stop, but not for long. It sounded like something trying to get in. It would be loud scratching for a couple minutes then stop for a couple minutes.

I have one of the high powered bicycle headlights and went outside to investigate. I checked all the crawl space vents to see if they were still in place, they were. Next I opened up the door to the crawl space, poked my head in and aimed the beam in the direction of the noise, I could see nothing. I didn’t dare go in any further, fearing I’d run into a rabid possum or a raccoon or maybe a wolverine. I returned in the house and reported my findings. She said, “I’ll call the pest control people and have them come out and look.” We thought for a while we would have to sleep in the bedroom on the other side of the house because the scratching was fairly loud, but by 11:00 PM it had totally stopped. The pest control people couldn’t make it until today, but that was alright because the sound never reappeared. But we still wanted to know if the claw monsters were still lurking under there, or if they had gone, how much damage had they done trying to escape.

The pest guy showed up, and like me, walked around the house looking at the vents, but unlike me, he actually went under the house to look around. His report was that he could find no indication of any wayward creatures under there. He then said, “Let me look in the attic.” This time, when he came back, he had a different result. “Probably what you heard was a baby squirrel or a small flying squirrel or maybe a field mouse that fell down between the sheet rock of this short wall here.” “I know it sounded louder than a small animal, but the sound was just amplified by the chamber.” He handed us his card and said, “If you hear the scratching again, call me on my cell. But more than likely, whatever it was has died and you probably won’t even know anything about it.”