Fate: The Practical Joker

Fate seems to think I need a surprise every now and then to keep me on my toes.  Last month’s dough snake certainly succeeded in that, and now Fate’s twisted sense of humour has struck again.  The setup for its latest practical joke was elaborate, going back more than two years.

My vehicle was only a couple of years old at the time and still had its ‘new-car’ scent, but one day I hopped in and got a whiff of… something else.

A really gross ‘something else’.  As if meat juice had been wiped up with sweaty gym socks, then sealed in a plastic bag and left to ferment for a month.  Fortunately it wasn’t terribly strong, but it was definitely pungent.  So I took it to the dealer for a warranty repair. 

When I picked up the vehicle, the service manager gave me a patronizing smile and assured me the smell had just been a bit of stale moisture in the cabin filter:  “It’s all fixed now, so don’t you worry your pretty head about it, little lady.”  (Okay, he didn’t actually say that — if he had, he’d still be nursing the scars; but that was the gist of his attitude.)

They’d ‘fixed’ it, all right. Or rather, fixed me:  They’d poured some vile air freshener into the cabin air intake.  For the next several weeks I had to drive with my windows down, surrounded by a stench like a half-rotted zombie drenched in cheap perfume.  At last the foul miasma faded, and I heaved a sigh of relief. 

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago.  (Fate is nothing if not patient.)

I was doing some routine vehicle maintenance, changing the oil and replacing the air filter.  Hubby wandered over and peeked under the hood. 

“What’s this?” he inquired, tugging at a small stick protruding from the air intake.  A moment later he recoiled.  “Ugh!  You can take that out of there — you’re wearing gloves!” 

As he stomped off to wash his hands, I investigated.

Sure enough, the ‘stick’ was the stiffened tail of a mouse that had crawled into the intake and died two years ago.  (Clearly the service department had investigated the problem thoroughly… NOT.)  Anyway, by now the mouse was desiccated and odorless, and when I extracted the little corpse it was feather-light and perfectly preserved.  I’m sure Fate was doubled over, laughing so hard it peed its pants. 

I’m afraid to contemplate what its next prank will be, but I’m bracing myself…


P.S. Thanks to everyone who expressed concern for our safety during the recent catastrophic flooding and mudslides.  (Last week’s news report here:  https://www.accuweather.com/en/severe-weather/death-toll-climbs-following-catastrophic-flooding-in-british-columbia/1049096)   

We’re fine – we missed the worst of the rain, and our creek didn’t overflow.  But our hearts go out to all the people who lost their lives, livestock, and/or homes.  On top of COVID and the summer forest fires, it’s another devastating blow.

Book 17 update: Plotting is going well, and I’ll likely start putting words on the page this week. It’s good to be off and running! 🙂

19 thoughts on “Fate: The Practical Joker

  1. Gross is about all I can say….how awful!! And to think that critters body was there all along….ugh!! I had to laugh with having to then go through keeping your windows rolled down due to that cheap perfume smell…..I’m with you on that and I think it’s right up there with a dead mouse body smell in a different but none the less offensive way!!
    Glad to hear all is well with you guys and yes you have had your fair share of extreme weather this year!!! Take Care!!


    • Thanks, Kirt! Yes, our local climate has certainly been crazy this year. Hopefully next year will be a little less extreme. (Hmmm, I’m beginning to feel as though I say that every year…) 😉 And I won’t be sorry if I never smell a decomposing mouse, ever again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL!! I’m with you on that one. In our house in San Diego, we lived by a field and even though we had monthly pest control, we would get the occasional mouse or rat dying in either the attic or in one of the walls. yes, the smell is awful!! Have a great week!!


  2. Ah yes, smells in the car.

    Two summers ago Ed grabbed a few groceries for me on his way home from work. A couple days later I went to get milk & the jug (4 litre) was almost empty—no second jug. “I though you bought milk the other day?” Ed replies, “I did.” He looks in the fridge. “Did you forget it at the store?”, I ask. “No. I remember putting in the car because I didn’t want it to shift & break the eggs.” We exchange horrified looks.

    Two years later.

    I have washed everything in the car several times. Vacuumed with baking soda, frebreeze, left all the windows open, shampooed. There is still the faint odour of spoiled milk in our car, from a sealed, jug of milk.

    Glad to hear you didn’t float away. Very scary pics on the evenings news. But hey, climate change isn’t real! Right. Take care and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! Love ya! 😻


    • Oh, that would be fitting revenge! And your diabolical plan brought back a memory that made me laugh. When my parents got married, they knew they’d be in for some pranks from their friends, so they weren’t particularly surprised when the air vents of their getaway car spewed out a shower of confetti. But they managed to evade their pursuers and had a good honeymoon. After they returned, the erstwhile best man asked some pointed questions about how their trip had been. Dad didn’t think much of it, until months later when he went to change a tire on the car. It was a Chevy with those big domed hubcaps, and when he removed the hubcap, a bunch of desiccated fish fell out. All four wheels had received the same treatment. Apparently the fish had been meant to stink them out of the car, but the prairie weather had been so unseasonably hot that the fish had dehydrated instead of rotting. Sometimes you win…


      • Ella’s cousin was a terror at weddings for doctoring people’s cars. Everyone was laying for him when he got married. So that afternoon he borrowed his dad’s car as his was “in hiding” and had a duplicate key made. When the time came for he and his bride to leave, he stole his dad’s car and made a clean getaway. He also had his bride convinced that the best man was going on their honeymoon with them to Hawaii so they could go scuba diving together. Wedding pranks are the most fun.


  3. I am soooo with you on the offensive pungency of ‘air fresheners’. And if the inventors/creators of such pongs consider them fresh air I hope to never, ever be invited to their domiciles.
    And yes, I have experienced both. Years back some animals died in our only water supply NOT fun time.


    • Oh, no! What an awful experience to have that in your water supply! I think if that happened to me, I’d have a hard time drinking the water again even after I knew it was clean.

      And I’ve never yet smelled an ‘air freshener’ that didn’t make me want to gag. Even though some of the scents aren’t actually all that offensive… (excluding the one the dealership used — that went FAR beyond ‘offensive’)… no matter how pleasant a scent is, I need to be able to get away from it or it slowly begins to turn my stomach. I don’t wear perfume for that reason; and I struggle a bit on days when we roast a big turkey. By the time the bird is served, I don’t want it anymore. Good thing I love leftovers! 🙂


  4. I can’t believe they didn’t find that mouse at the car shop! How could they not even have popped up the hood when you brought the car in? So unprofessional. Maybe Fate has something in store for those employees as well!

    I’m glad to read that you and yours are safe and well after this last disaster. 2021 has brought nothing but trouble. And we thought 2020 was bad… I hope Fate can have more pity on all of us next year!


    • I hope so, too. There was a small B.C. newspaper whose headline expressed what a lot of people have been thinking: “What’s with the Biblical weather? Whatever we did, we’re sorry!”

      My experience with the dealership’s lackadaisical attitude was pretty much par for the course — I’ve never had good service from any car dealership, ever. That’s why I do as much of my own automotive work as possible, as soon as the vehicle is off warranty.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was wondering if you were going to need a boat instead of a car during the recent rains. Glad to hear you’re okay.

    I once was the GM of a small testing company and my sales group was two women in the office next to mine. One day they started complaining about bad smells. Since their office was near the men’s room, I asked our cleaners to do an extra cleaning and install some of those automatic ailfresherns machines. The smell got worse over the next couple of days and I even caught a whiff of it in my office. The sales team spent most of their time out visiting customers so I didn’t hear any more complaints until Friday. I and one of my supervisors went to investigate. He stepped into the office and immediately said, “Smells like something died in here.” We pushed up a celling title and found three dead rats (not mice, roof rats). Turns out the landlord had set out bait, and these three ate and went into our office celling to die. Took us hours to clean it up and in the end I had to call the property manager to bring out new celling titles and insulation.

    To say the least, my sales team wasn’t happy with me.


  6. I’m glad to hear you’re OK with all the weather incidents happening in your area. 👍

    We lost a favorite car in a flood back in 2014, a few weeks before we were supposed to go on vacation. This was one of those rare rain instances where parts of the area received five inches of rain within a couple of hours, and my better half was trying to get home. (She got off of our freeways, which are below grade, since the water was running down the sides like a series of waterfalls.) Where she got stuck was in a spot where two tributaries come together, and the police stupidly had left that major road open and blocked off the other east/west roads. It rose so quickly that she had to get help climbing out of the window. I couldn’t even get to her since other roads were closed, and I’d have had to go around somehow to try and find her.

    But that car also leads to a similar story. For about a week or so, in the heat of summer (upper 80s to the mid 90s, or about 29°-33° Canadian), we had this rancid, putrid smell we couldn’t identify. It wasn’t the dead animal smell. But more like..I don’t know, really. A week later I opened the trunk and found a plastic grocery bag she had taken to work, inside of which was a half-emptied leftover container. With…lasagna. I’m sure we were growing some cultures in there!

    On my daily driver, if I remove one of the plastic panels covering the cowl, I can see right into the airbox on top of the cabin air filter. I’ve heard of rodents finding their way in there. Some owners have attached a small piece of wire mesh over the opening to prevent it. And since I had rodent damage to one of our cars a couple of winters ago (I had the Civic’s engine partly torn apart–the wiring to one of the fuel injectors was chewed through), now I’m wary about leaving the cars unattended. We do have a few mice, but we have rats that have infested our suburbs, and the squirrel population is out of control. I’d seen an ad for a sonic pest repellent that is supposed to work, but heck if I can find the link anymore to buy one.


    • Mice, grrr! I normally park my car in the garage, which has a lower rodent population than outdoors; but I seem to recall that I’d had to park outside for a while around that time. I’m especially vigilant about parking in the garage because I know my vehicle has wiring with that tasty soy-based insulation that became ubiquitous several years ago. I can just imagine the bright designer that came up with that one: “Hmmm, let’s make insulation out of a food product and put it in vehicles that are left where mice can get to them (i.e. EVERYWHERE). What could possibly go wrong?”

      I had a similar abandoned-food experience with our chest freezer when we lived in Calgary. We didn’t have enough room for the freezer, so we ‘repurposed’ a clothes closet and shoved the freezer in there. Same thing, I kept catching a whiff of this strange funky smell every time I went by. The closet was right next to a bathroom, so I spent more time than I care to admit looking for plumbing leaks. At last, I discovered a small Ziploc bag of unidentifiable ‘something’ that had escaped the freezer and dropped down between the freezer and the wall. Odor problem: solved.

      Your wife’s experience with the flood must have been terrifying. I’m not afraid of water and I’m a strong swimmer, but I never want to get caught in floodwater. The current is so strong, and you don’t know what floating projectiles are coming at you; not to mention the contamination from sewer backups. Yikes! I’m glad she got out okay.

      Liked by 1 person

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