An Intern and Her Car

I have been having all sorts of fun with my work car this summer. Affectionately named Jabba the Hutt, this vehicle and I have had a soap opera-worthy relationship; dramatic, rocky, and filled with intrigue.

To give you some context, Jabba is a small warship masquerading as an SUV. For breakfast, he eats a healthy diet of sedans, small mountain ranges, and the occasional ground squirrel, washing it all down with a casual 60 gallons of gas. I always get funny looks when I pull up in Jabba, because given his size, people are expecting to see seven children, Shaquille O’Neal, and a Clydesdale disembark. Instead, the driver’s door swings open and a medium-sized woman falls out. I say “falls” because Jabba lives at such high elevation that in order to land safely every time I jump out, I have to drop and roll to absorb the impact. I also cannot see either the front, nor the back of Jabba from the driver’s seat, making backing up, or driving forward two very exciting activities. Furthermore, I suspect that people cannot see my head above the steering wheel, which might explain their look of shock as the seemingly driverless Jabba rolls by.  Did you see a particularly atrocious parking job done by a small semi? I apologize. That was me.

I have to be fair: Jabba gets me everywhere I want to go, handling the “roads” (read, large rocks pretending to be drivable passages) we go down with admirable dexterity and grit. The tricky part comes in fast-talking him into taking me home. This pugnacious personality trait is what led to the first of our great face-offs. We (yes, Jabba and I have become the Royal ‘We’) had just descended a small cliff, and were preparing for a day of field work.  Without warning, one of Jabba’s back doors went on strike, flipping its latch upside down, and rendering itself impossible to close. No amount of brute force, subtle adjustment, or creative swearing could get the latch to flip right side up again. Faced with the unpleasant prospect of driving home with the back door flapping in the wind, I improvised; unlacing my hiking boots, I tied Jabba’s back doors shut with my shoelaces.  I cannot lie – I took a victory lap before starting the drive home. 


Make no mistake though – after being forced to suffer the indignity of having his backside tied shut by some dusty shoestrings, Jabba had no qualms about taking his revenge. After an uneventful day spent driving across the Pioneers, he had lured me into a false sense of security, inspired by his unusual lack of rebellion. Believing we had reached a truce, I was unconcerned as I pulled off the highway to meet with a rancher. Deviously waiting until I had pulled up in front of the most people possible, Jabba exploded, sending billows of white vapor out from under his hood while making all manner of tortured noises. It was the equivalent of a child’s temper tantrum in the grocery store and my face was bright red as I stammered apologies to the family whose driveway we’d just invaded. As my ability to diagnose car problems is limited to recognizing flat tires, he had me, and he knew it. I am convinced that the wheezing noises Jabba made as the tow truck hauled him away were the sounds of his triumphant cackling. 20160718_182416

I have no doubt that this is not where our, er…..”adventures” will end. Were this actually a soap opera, I could hear the narrator’s voice (deep, and very dramatic) announcing: “What will happen next? Forgiveness, or heartbreak? Find out next week on Love in a Time of Car Troubles.

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The Pioneers Alliance is a cooperative effort by ranchers, local residents, conservationists and public lands managers to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural values of the Pioneer Mountains and Craters of the Moon landscape of south-central Idaho.

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