All’s Well That Ends Well

Yesterday started grimly. My car sat in my driveway. Dead. The night before, after a dinner with my wife at IHOP, I’d come out into the cold, hopped into my car, turned the key and ….. a sick clicking sound. Again. The same ghastly sound. Foolishly trying again. Same sound.

Frantically I called my wife who had left the IHOP parking lot and was heading to Home Depot to search for a new stove light. ” I’m stuck!!! My car won’t start!!!” Reports I sobbed into the phone are greatly exaggerated.

“Calm down,” she commanded. She reminded me we had AAA service and would call. Forty minutes later the AAA truck arrived. The guy boosted the battery and recommended I take my car to Autozone to have the battery checked.

“Your alternator’s bad,” a young blond guy at Autozone told me.

“How can you tell?” I asked with a growing sense of unease.  “I checked it,” he said in a smug, knowing way as he  waived a bulky testing unit at me. “We have the part in stock,” he said.

“How much?” I braced for the answer.

“Two fifty.” He started back toward the warmth of the store. “But we don’t do labor.” I shook my head. When it comes to auto mechanics, my knowledge ends when I open the hood. I can smugly explain to you the principals of internal combustion, but I can’t tell a piston from a pie plate.

The next day my wife called around for prices. “It will run between four and six hundred dollars.” This time I did sob. “Get a grip,” she snapped. “Its no big deal.”

Yesterday I had to be in court in Knoxville. I extorted my secretary’s ten year old Civic. My God! No airbags, power windows or mirrors!!

By four or so in the afternoon I was finished at work. It was time to deal with the car. Suddenly I had an inspiration. I called my old friend Dave. He’s a film actor now but had been a shade tree mechanic back in the day. Twenty plus years ago Dave sold me an elderly English Ford Cortina which broke down on a reliably regular basis. He’d been a good sport about it and came every time I called from wherever I was stranded.

“Go to Hayes,” he said, “talk to Kenny.” After getting directions I had my secretary take me home. I eyed my car warily. Amazingly, the engine turned over; I didn’t need to call AAA again! Twenty minutes later I pulled into the crowded parking lot of the auto repair shop. My little compact was surrounded by full sized pickups and hulking  sedans.

“Dave sent me; are you Kenny?” I said, hoping the invocation of my old friend’s name would help. The guy behind the counter nodded, then went back to a telephone conversation involving his urgent need for various parts with  mysterious sounding names for a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck. He looked to be about fifty-five. His face was ruddy and deeply creased; his hands looked like they were made out of sandpaper.  After he was sure the person on the other end of the call understood what he needed, he turned back to me.

I recounted my tale of automotive, electrical woe. He ducked into the shop and returned with a piece of equipment. “Let’s test your battery.” A few seconds after he had hooked the unit to the battery he said, “yeah, your battery’s dead.” I asked about the alternator, waiting for the bad news. “Nope,” he said, “its fine.” When I asked if he was sure, he explained, “see, look here,” he pushed the testing until toward me. “You’re drawing fourteen amps.” At least I think that’s what he said. In any event, the reading, whatever it was, seemed to settle the generator question.

“The alternator’s  OK?” I stupidly asked. I began to feel a giddy sense of relief.

“Yeah, “Kenny said, “but you definitely need a new battery. Go to Auto Parts on the Old Highway and get a Gold. Gonna cost you about fifteen bucks more but it’ll last forever.” I thanked him profusely and got back into my car. It wouldn’t start but Kenny used a magic box of some kind to boost my battery and off I went.

“Kenny sent me,” I announced to a bald headed man with rough, oil stained hands and who looked to be in his late twenties. “He told me to get a Gold battery.”

He looked at me expectantly for a few seconds, then asked, “what kind of car you got?” Embarrassed, I shook my head and told him. He immediately strode to the back of the store which was lined with racks and racks of bulky, black batteries of differing shapes and sizes. Outside, I watched fascinated as he deftly pulled my dead battery out and then hooked up the new one. My car was restored! And it had only cost just over a hundred dollars! What a steal! I actually laughed as I drove  toward my house. I’d saved three hundred bucks  or more! This was a wonderful day!

When I was nearly home I noticed the western sky was a gorgeous mix of setting sun and burnished gold and soft, pink clouds. What a great sunset, I thought. Too bad I didn’t have my Nikon. I knew by the time I got to the house and grabbed my camera bag the sky would have turned dark and colorless.

Then I remembered I had my iPhone 4. I raced to a spot just past my subdivision where I could pull off the road. The field in front of me was dark and drained of color, but the sky was still a vivid kaleidoscope of colors. Ten minutes later I had snapped off a dozen or so photos of the sky as it turned from pink to red, then purple before finally surrendering to night’s relentless shroud. Feeling really wonderful about how the day had turned out, I headed for home…

Here’s one of my sunset shots:

Tennessee Sunset

And now, because you have shown such marvelous patience, here’s a luscious redhead who’d charge me up any day of the week! Original  image by Bob Bobster.

creative commons license


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