Posted on April 17th, 2012 by Viveca in New York Stories

Want to hear the grossest thing ever?

Okay not ever, but still gross enough.

My car’s check engine light came on a few days ago. I mostly stopped driving although I didn’t feel anything wrong with it and even lent it to Matt and Jen. While they had it, the power steering went out, so we figured that was what was wrong. Since I’m working all the time, Matt took it in for me. Neither of us noticed anything else wrong with the car.

When I called to check on my car and said, “How are you?” the service guy replied, “I’m fine, but you’re car’s not so good.”

Uh-oh. Not words you ever want to hear.

They had found a 12″ rat tangled up in the engine. He said they were wondering why the car was full of flies and why all the neighborhood cats had started hanging around it. They couldn’t get the rat out from above, so they had to attack it from “a few directions.” They thought it might have caused the power steering problem (gnawed through a hose or blocked the fluid) but not the check engine light. However, they couldn’t tell me how bad the damage was because every time anyone opened my car, they all gagged, and nobody could work on it.

How could none of the three of us have noticed anything? We think the rat was in there alive for a while and only died more recently. I apologized to the guy and told him to air it over night, spray it, do whatever they had to do to be able to work on it, no hurry.

Today he called back. After removing the rat (which remember they had to pull out in pieces from the top and bottom), the smell was still bad, and they thought they’d left pieces of guts in there, but then they found three more rat carcasses! A family of rats had made a whole nest in my car! They like warm, closed spaces.

It gets worse (but not grosser). The rats caused major damage, and it isn’t related to the check engine light, which is a different problem. The check engine thing is a fuel exhaust problem in the back of the car that causes no difference that you can feel but is illegal to drive with (can’t pass inspection with check engine light on). Meanwhile, everything near the rat den has to be replaced and steam cleaned. Total estimate: over $2,000 with no optional maybe you can put this off till next time work. Ugh!

Or as I almost said, “Rats!”

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