Jumpin' cars and takin' names

As I mentioned in my last post (which was my first post - confusing), I spent some time last night helping my roommate get her car started. Wednesday night she had forgetten to turn off the lights in her hurry to get in out of a storm. She also failed to notice she was parked in a rush hour bus route, so the car had been towed around the corner onto 14th Street NW. That courtesy tow comes with a hundred dollar fine. So, not good, but by the time I got home, she had already called AAA and was on the phone with her mom. Situation seemed well in hand. I retired to my room, absorbed in my own family conversations. Half an hour later I heard a faint knock on my door, and there's Ellen, on the verge of tears. The AAA response person had told the driver 14th Street NE instead of NW, and the driver hung up on Ellen when she was trying to correct the miscommunication. Seeing her reminded me of all the frustrations I had with insurance, parking regulations, inspection, and registration when I first arrived in the District. Cars are such a hassle, which is exactly why mine is going back to Tennessee.

For the moment, I gave her a quick hug and told her we'll get it taken care of without AAA. I have some experience jumpstarting cars (where by "I" I mean "my then boyfriend and whoever else I could flag down"). But my battery used to die all the time, due to an improperly dealer-installed stereo that was draining it and the relative underuse of cars at college. Apparently I learned something in my glassy stares under the hood, though, and really, it's just not that hard. I was pretty confident as I paralleled in front of her car, aside from the 10 year old boy stabbing the nearby tree with a switch blade. The only snafu we ran into is a stubborn safety latch on Ellen's hood. We were both crouching at the nose, hands in the inch and a half space, eyes narrowed, mouths in contorted grins, when a potbellied and balding man approached.

"You girls need any help?" Uggh.

More civilly than I was able, Ellen responded, "I think we got it, but if you could get this latch to unlock..." He struggled with it for a minute, too but eventually did open it and prop up the hood. Maybe stubby fingers were better.

As he was walking away, he said, "Now you all know what you're doing? Get the red and black, negative and positive, right? That's the key." I gave a downward jab of my head with averted eyes, and he continued, "Alright, well, the liquor store's calling my name." 'Course it is. Ellen and I joked that he probably realized he didn't know what he was doing or was already too inebriated to do it. We hooked it all up, started mine, started hers, and left both running for a moment or two. I had just put the cables away and closed everything when hers died again. So there we were struggling once more with the latch when who should walk by but our good samaritan friend. In response to his chortled, patronizing queries, we explained it had already been started up but just died again.

Ellen said, "But if you want to pull your hood-opening trick...oh got it, never mind." He stood around anyway, trying to coach me on parking with the noses towards each other. I told him it's not worth it with the traffic on 14th, which is a main artery. And, thanks to an overly cautious, automobile-minded godfather, my cables are 25 feet long. He saw me unwinding these in the direction of Ellen's car and said, "Whoa, I'm from Texas, and we call that Texas-style. Huh huh. Huh." Ha. But he's backed onto the sidewalk and was walking away, so I said nothing. Ellen, "That guy? Two thumbs down."

We agreed she should leave her car running but that I could head home. Fifteen minutes later, my name was being called from the bottom of the stairs. She had tried turning the radio on and that was too much. I'm thinking this battery is probably completely shot. We would have just left it, but the window was also down. So I fetched my car, and we went through our rigmarole one more time. This time I left my iPod with her, and she opened the door with her windows rolled up. If it's dead this morning, she's actually going to make use of AAA to bring her a new battery.

All in all, took just over an hour. Not bad for two damsels in distress.

[UPDATE: Saturday noon, The car started right up yesterday and today. Huzzah!]


Post a Comment

<< Home