My husband has a Jeep Grand Cherokee that we mainly keep around for when it snows. It also comes in handy when we have to haul music gear, but that doesn't happen very often.
A month or so ago, our guitarist was over and we decided to take the Jeep to dinner because our other cars had too much music gear in them. As soon as we opened the Jeep door, a wave of unspeakable stench leaped out at us. It's difficult to describe the odor, but it definitely involved the rotting of something formerly alive. I would have guessed that someone went fishing and left their catch in the back seat all through the spring. However, we don't fish.
We rolled down all the windows, but it didn't really help. When we got back home, I searched carefully under the seats and sprayed every available fabric-covered surface with Febreze and then left the windows down for a couple of days. The smell remained.
We kept speculating about what the smell could be. Did an animal somehow get in and die? Did we run over some roadkill that just lingered because we so seldom drove the vehicle? There was no telling.
Yesterday I needed to haul a small PA system, so my husband readied the hot, stinky Jeep. (Did I mention that the air conditioning doesn't work? That makes the experience extra special, let me tell you.) There was a bunch of random music gear in the back, so he started pulling out cymbals, cables, etc. to clear a spot for the speaker.
When I got home to switch cars, my husband had some news: he'd found the source of the smell.
Back in March, my husband's sister came into town with her son and husband. We'd all gone out to dinner and ordered way too much food. It turns out one of the take-home containers of food never made it out of the Jeep. One of our guests had tucked it behind the back seat and it had vanished into the sea of music gear.
Thus did a styrofoam clamshell of barbecued beef ribs decay in our hot Jeep for FOUR MONTHS. When I heard the story, I said, "How bad was it?"
"I didn't open it!" he said.
What I meant was, how bad was the smell in the Jeep? It turns out that it's much better than the last time I experienced it. Still, there's a lingering funk that I think will take a good deal more Febreze and fresh air to dissipate. I can stand it (really, the heat's worse than the smell), but I wouldn't offer anyone a ride right now.
I'll be driving the Jeep again tomorrow to my vocal lesson and on to my audition with the classic rock band. I'm hoping that a good shot of air freshener in the morning will clear out the last of the smell, but I'm not counting on it.
The whole experience makes me want to clean out all of our cars so that no food item could ever again slide out of sight. I'll probably just settle for paying more attention when we get home from dinner from now on.