Power to the People

This makes a better story if you know a few things about me. I hate to be late. I am extremely uncomfortable with strangers and I know very little about cars. I despise feeling helpless.

The Start1

Scene: Flowery Branch GA– a town that feels recently birthed from farmland an hour or so outside the sprawling mass that is Atlanta

I need to be at the school roughly three miles away by 8:30AM. I am at a hotel. It’s is 7:30AM. I figure I might as well leave early. I turn the key in my car. Nothing. Not a click. Not a twitch. I open the hood and see the scene below. Blue powdery stuff2 and the metal thing that attaches the wires to the batteryx3 had been completely eaten in half.

I tried a few things. I tried to wedge the terminal against the battery post with a box . I tried using the jumper cables like a giant clothes pin to hold the terminal in place.4 Time was passing and I was displeased. Very displeased.


I opted to return to the hotel and see about getting a cab. The response was not comforting. Something was said about another county and a wait of an hour or so. I canceled the cab call. The helpful lady at the front desk mentioned that the lady who delivered the food might be willing to give me a ride. She was. I got a ride and a lot of information on how much this place has changed. I hitched a ride back to the hotel with the Hall County Director of Technology.

AAA is probably more like a C+

I get back to the hotel around 4:45PM. I call AAA. They call me a tow truck and promise it will take me someplace useful that can fix the car. The tow truck driver arrives and disagrees. He also says he’s never seen anything like what’s happened to my battery. He opts not to try to jump directly to the cables and mentions fear of an explosion.

I call AAA to discuss this. They appear to be googling garages. This does not increase my confidence. It is now closer to 5:30PM. Hopes are fading. Lacking a destination the tow trucker driver leaves. I begin to seethe.

After venting a bit on the phone, I turn to YouTube. I find the video below, which is sort of close. I worry about electricity. I worry that I’ve probably already fried some computer somewhere. I have been well sewn with fear, uncertainty, and doubt but I am also very unhappy. I google auto part stores in the area. I find an Advanced Auto Parts that’s open until 9:00PM. I call them. Carlos tells me that they don’t have the exact part I need but indicates we can probably figure something out. I commit. I tell Carlos I’m having my car towed to the parking lot.

I call AAA back. While waiting for the tow truck, I go through all of the tools in my trunk. I break a socket driver. I then make sure it is broken. I find the adjustable wrench is coated in wax or maybe paraffin.5 The tools are utterly useless. The waiting is unpleasant.

The tow truck arrives around 7:30. The store is seven miles away on the highway. It’s getting dark and sporadic rain drops are hitting the tow truck’s window as we head over. There is no small talk. I have committed. I will fix this in the parking lot.

Redemption Song

After being pointed to the general area by a clerk. I stare at the various terminal ends. Another clerk approaches and asked if he talked to me on the phone earlier. It is Carlos. Carlos is awesome. He looks at the car. Calls it an easy fix and proceeds to help me pick the part, borrow the tools, and get this done.6 Car works perfectly. I am a better person.

1 Or non-start I guess.

2 Apparently corroded lead and fairly common.

3 I later learned it was called a battery terminal. +1Vocabulary addition

4 That almost worked.

5 I vaguely remember why this might be the case but can confirm no details.

6 A pry bar was involved at one point to get some extra cable length.

8 thoughts on “Power to the People

  1. My last comment got eaten, so let me restate.

    I would have loved to been on this adventure with you. Crazy stuff like this with someone given to rage like you is when my smack talking is at its best.

  2. If there were an “Amazing Race” style competition in which skills needed to be learned from YouTube videos in order to advance, your whole family would surely be the reigning champions. Oh, wait, I think we’re on to something. That show would be a hit! New cars for everyone!

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