My Dead Battery Story

I like to think I am self-sufficient…that I can handle whatever situation comes my way. I have cut limbs and hauled them to the street, cleaned out a goldfish pond, fixed a vacuum cleaner, wrestled with a lawn mower, trimmed bushes, changed light bulbs in the ceiling, hauled furniture up and down the stairs, painted exterior and interior, handled finances, and executed a hundred other tasks all by myself. But the one thing that takes me down is the car.

You’d think I could handle that. I had a father who taught me how to change a tire, who told me to change my oil, who told me that if I wanted something done right to do it myself. Did I learn? No. I have always been surrounded by men — father, boyfriends, husbands, sons. They always dealt with car emergencies, although I have made many a trip for service and dealt with the mechanics myself.

I have two cars, both Subarus, one an Outback and the other a Legacy. I’ve made it a point to drive both cars, to keep them in good running order. The Outback is newer. In recent months I have bought four new tires, new brakes, and had a few other things under the hood addressed, something about oil leaking in three places. The Legacy is my favorite; it fits me perfectly and has a sun roof and other amenities. But right now it needs an oil change and I haven’t had time to take it to Valvoline, so I haven’t been driving it much during the past month.

This afternoon I put the dog in the Legacy with plans to go get gasoline and drive it around the neighborhood to give it a good workout. I stick the key in the ignition, turn it, and sc-c-c-ratch. Then no sound. Nothing. The battery is dead. I have ignored it too long.

Okay, so, battery cables. I know I need those. I look in the Legacy trunk and don’t find any, surprised that my husband never put any in there. He was an engineer and a former Eagle Scout and big on making sure I had everything I needed … even if I didn’t know how to use it. There is stuff in there to change a tire with, though, but I’m sure I won’t know what to do with that when the time comes.

I call my son due to come home over the holiday. “Do you have any battery cables?”

“Um, no, I don’t have any.”

“I thought every man had battery cables.”

“They do.” He laughs.

I raise my eyebrows.

Then I go look in the Ouback. I remove the tray in the back and pull up a carpeted lid. Voila, there’s a huge built-in tray full of tools:  10 screw drivers — one about 15 inches long; wrenches; tire changer things — is it called a lug something?; a Cheater Pipe, whatever that is; tweezers; something that might be called a ratchet that is wrapped in one of my old kitchen dish towels; some brand new rope still in the package; a knife; a whisk broom; work gloves; and get this — a rain jacket. A rain jacket? In case someone might have to change a tire in the rain. I’ve been driving this car around with all that stuff buried in the back, and I didn’t even know it was there. The built-in tray has a handle, and I lift it up and see the spare tire well, and there are the battery cables. Okay, I’m good.

Now, using them. Uh uh. Not me.

I call my son again. “Do you know how to use battery cables?”

“I think so. It’s been a long time.”

I have a vision of this child at sixteen with his first flat tire — actually two flat tires at the same time. And he sits with a sheet of directions in the street in front of our house with nuts and bolts and tire parts all over the concrete around him and learns step by step how to change a tire. It’s also the same child who last year fills my oil too full and I have to take the car in for service. Hmmm.

Now, I’m remembering the man I met in the parking lot of First Tennessee Bank in Brentwood. He has a business of making house calls or office calls for cars. He’ll come fix a flat, charge or replace a battery, do minor repair work on site. I went over and talked to him, got his business card, told him I’m a single woman and might have to call him sometimes if I get in trouble with my car. Sam’s Mobile Auto Repair Team. 23 Years Experience. 615-613-8008.

I think I’m in trouble. I think I will call Sam.

Being self-sufficient doesn’t mean I know how to do everything. It may just mean I know when to call someone and whom to call.


One Comment on “My Dead Battery Story”

  1. This was great, Kathy. I always keep an emergency kit in my trunk, including battery cables, but my first plan of action is always to call for help! AARP and AAA have good services for when you’re on the road. Once, at 10 pm at night in Dallas, they sent someone to fix my flat tire. Nothing weak about asking for help!

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