See this flurry of extremely alarmed texts at left? They came from my daughter, and they interrupted my breakfast in Vermont this morning with my son and assorted members of my splendiferous non-blood family. (These are the folks who took over the business of being related to me after my parents and sister died in the early 90s. It’s a long story. I’ll explain it in full at some point, but for now, if you’re feeling up to it, and if you’re already sick of reading this post, you can hop on over to my column about them in the Times Union.)
In the middle of this, I got that thing at the left, a wild and hurried display of pronounced adolescent panic based on A) the realization that the Matrix was dead meat in the driveway and B) the worry that Mom Would Be Really REALLY Super Pissed. But Mom wasn’t Really REALLY Super Pissed. Mom wasn’t Pissed at all. However, Mom was in Vermont, and both the car and daughter in question were in Albany, and so Mom , be she Pissed With Qualifiers or Not Pissed At All, couldn’t do a damned flapdoodling thing about it. Not yet, anyway.
Later I learned that my daughter’s friend’s dad’s best friend’s housekeeper’s ferret’s cousin (actually, it was just the dad, bless his soul) had kindly hauled-ass over with jumper cables and tried to resuscitate it, to no avail. That sucker was dead. Probably last night’s cold. And probably the battery was dying anyway. I told Jeanne I’d come home and give a go at jumping the thing myself.
I CAN DO IT, I proudly bleated. I’VE DONE IT BEFORE. Here I should probably have thumped my chest and let out a crazed whoop celebrating my towering automotive prowess.
Before Chris died, I knew squat about cars. I still know squat, with two asterisks: I can replace the bulbs on headlights (yay hurray, YouTube!!); and I can jump a dead car (yay hurray, portable battery jumper!!). As pathetic as it sounds, this ranks as some of the finest Figuring Out of Low-Level Everyday Annoying Shit I’ve ever done.
And so, when I arrived home at 3:01 p.m. this afternoon, I bolted into the house, yelled I’M HERE TO SAVE THE DAY! or something similar, then tumbled into the basement, snagged the auto jumper off the shelf, raced out to the Matrix, snapped the cables onto the relevant parts (red goes on red! black goes somewhere that won’t blow up the car!), turned the ignition, fired up the engine, got out of the car, and howled YESSSS!!!!!
I then thumped my chest and let out a crazed whoop celebrating my towering automotive prowess.
At 3:18, I drove over to Advance Auto Parts and bought a battery. A cute boy with bright eyes and crooked hair installed it for me in the lot. He suggested I stay inside the store where it was warm; I told him, Thanks but no thanks, I want to watch and learn. And the boy smiled and said, “Right! Maybe next time, you’ll install it yourself.” Exactly.
I made it back home, the Matrix purring sweetly, by 3:46. Elapsed time: 45 minutes.