Sunday, January 09, 2011

I Almost Lost Guy Points Tonight

Tonight, after dropping off my kids at my ex-wife's, I ran out to the store for some odds and ends. Mostly, I needed chips for the dip I still have in preparation for the pilot of The Cape, a new series about something with some people that happens to include Summer Glau. Hey, I'm feeling lucky. I took my son to see Little Fockers today, convinced that the only thing I could possibly enjoy was the scene with Jessica Alba in her underwear rolling in a mud pit. One, there was no mud--just dirt. But I was still fine with it. And actually, despite what I heard, I thought the movie was enjoyable and funny. My son loved it--but he's thirteen, so ...


So I load my groceries in my trunk, and as I return my cart, a woman approaches me speaking some incomprehensible language. "Excuse me?" I asked. She spoke again and this time I identified her accent as British. I caught something about her vehicle not starting and that she had jumper cables. Ah.

So here it was. A test of my manhood. Could I help a stuck woman from another land with a simple tool that any man should know how to use. I know the basics. Positive (good) to positive (bad) and then negative (bad) to negative (positive). But I've had my car for 7-1/2 years and have never had a battery problem. Worse, I knew that my battery terminals in the front actually connected to the battery in the trunk floor.

So I told her I'd pull up next to her and check my manual.

Already I lost a guy point. The manual should still be in its original plastic wrapper--the way our maintenance manuals in my Humvee were in the Guard--you don't need no stinkin' manual.

But the manual said I use the front terminals as I thought. I unlatched my hood. And then in the dark, stumbled around for a good minute before I could open it. Good God, I was almost afraid to speak lest it betray my voice getting higher.

But I opened it. Sadly, the picture in the manual did not look like the actual terminal. I had a positive terminal but no negative that I could find in the dark. So I pulled up further and moved my groceries to check the buried battery in the trunk. Ah, both terminals. Jolly good. Let's have a go at this end, eh?

I suppose I gained some points back when the woman confessed she'd never opened her hood. So I could show her where the release latch was. And in my defense, I opened her bonnet in a couple seconds. So I have that going for me, what?

Right. So my positive to her positive. Her negative to my negative, with some comforting sparks to let me know I had potential life in my hands. We have current flow!

So I started up my driving machine and had her give her key a good turn. Well, it turned out rather better than I had hoped the way things were going. No explosions, smoke, or alarming smell of ozone at all. She started up her auto, and I removed the cables in reverse and handed them off to her, sending her on her way to home and hearth. She even drove on the proper side of the pavement!

It was a close run thing. But I got guy points.

She was quite thankful for me stopping on a cold night to help out. It was nothing, really. Or rather, it shouldn't have been. I should have been able to do that in my sleep, one-handed, while drinking a beer. I got the mission accomplished, but no style points at all. But still, what was I to do? Leave her? That wouldn't be proper at all for that special relationship across the Atlantic, eh? So if I'm ever stuck in Britain, I expect some help. And cold beer.

And I really need to look at my battery terminal in the daylight. I shouldn't have had shove groceries out of the way and prop up the floor board with a Styrofoam cooler to keep the floor board from dropping and dislodging the cables from the actual battery. I know that the engine terminal is supposed to work for this sort of thing.

Oh, and plenty of time for The Cape:

I really hope it doesn't suck.