This has been going on for quite some time, this battery drama. The first time was way back in summer when Bill and I went to a concert after a day at the races in Del Mar, which means it was August. We had parked in the overflow lot and while enjoying a couple of pre-entry beverages, I plugged in my phone to give it a little juice. No big whoop! Hours later we made our way back to find that the car was, as my dad used to say, D-E-D dead. I called AAA and they came and gave ‘er a little jump. It was a delay, but not a big deal.
Then I was hanging out in my car one night with one kid while the other one was at karate. I had my book, we listened to some tunes. No big whoop. Naturally, when the second kid joined us we realized that the car was D-E-D. Another call to AAA, another jump. This time the guy said he had a battery right there in his truck if I wanted to get a new one. I figured it was more expensive to do it that way, but I came learned a long time ago that my time is valuable and convenience is usually worth the money. So I told the guy to go ahead and replace the battery, I called my husband to say that we’d be a few minutes late for dinner. 45 minutes later the guy accepted defeat – he couldn’t do it! He was willing, but unable. That was a very clear sign that I didn’t need no stinking new battery, and shame on that man for trying to sell me one!
I know what you’re thinking, I do. These two incidences were warning signs that the battery would soon fail, and I am an idiot for going back to my normal, innocent life.
But that was last summer, and the car’s been running fine. And who among us just goes and replaces a battery when the car’s running fine? Oh, shoosh, you.
So yeah, blah blah blah this boring story will end with the climax of a dead battery and a stranded motorist, right? What kind of climax is that? How entirely predictable and dull.
How ‘bout this:
Last week I hung out in the car with my girl while my boy finished up basketball practice. I don’t think I was running anything off the battery, but I think that because I never opened the door or removed the keys from the ignition, even though it was turned off, the headlights stayed on while we sat. So yeah, the stupid battery died, and I resigned myself to the fact that I’d buy a new one from the towtruck guy and just wrap up this nonsense with a bow. The guy took forever, and when he didn’t bring up the option of buying rather than charging the battery, I took it as a sign that I should just go have dinner, but I knew I needed to really think about this soon or I was going to end up stranded.
This morning when I started the car to get the kids to school, it sort of…groaned. Or did I imagine that? No time to think about that, we had to be on our way. Busy day, no time to remember the question of whether or not I had heard or felt a slight hesitation when I started my car way back in the dark recesses of the morning. In the afternoon, one of my kids called feeling unwell, asking if I could come and pick them up from the after school skating adventure. That was unusual enough to get me moving, but I didn’t even think about the battery until I turned the key. Shit. Not dead, per se, but making that awful rarrr rarrr rarr sound that is just never good to hear. But it caught! It started! Everything would be fine. I would just keep it running until I could get it to the guy for a battery, and I would not have to call AAA for once. Did you know you can only use it four times in a year? Anyone keeping track?
I got to the skating rink, which is not exactly in a posh part of town. I pulled in to the parking lot and squeezed in between a few small groups of loitering kids. I sat there in the parking lot for a second, wondering how this was going to work. Then I had a flash of brilliance! I dug through my console and found the spare valet key! I could leave it running and lock the doors, then use the other key to get back inside.
I hit the button to lock all the doors.
It popped back open
Hit the button
Popped back open
Hit the button
Popped back open
It was like candid camera. Woman versus Toyota. The car would not let me lock the keys inside. I tried using the key to lock the door from the outside, but the little mo-fos kept popping themselves unlocked. I was outwitted. I couldn’t even text the kids to come out because my boy had forgotten his phone and it was a school thing to I had to sign for their asses. I was too far in to concede to the tow truck at this point, and I knew with certainty that if I turned the car off, it wouldn’t start again.
I had no choice but to end the spectacle I was making of myself. I simply pretended that I was not walking away from my car with the engine running and all four doors unlocked. Who would do that? I walked in and found the nearest kid who had sprung from my loins, and directed them outside to guard the car while I found the other one. Then we drove directly to the mechanic, where that conniving smartypants of a car has all night to plot its next move before getting worked up in the morning.