Being 32 years old, I’ve had experience with cars. Primarily driving them, occasionally riding in them, and very rarely scoring a makeout session in one (ah, Junior High, how I miss thee). And while my father made it his mission in life to both capture every fucking event 57 times with his camera, he also wanted to push a daughter out into the world who could do… erms…. stuff -n- things. Like change a tire or hammer something.
I never did learn how to fix a tire (although I can hammer like a motherfucker).
Once my father realized that I routinely fell UP the stairs, he decided “use of a car jack” may be better suited to someone like, oh, I don’t know…. my older brother? He never fell up the stairs, or if he did, he’d yell at the stairs for getting in his way (to be fair, I did too.). Being unable to properly change a flat tire was problematic, considering my form of therapy for many years was to take long rambling drives alone through the country and down dirt roads, just to see where I’d end up.
In the age before cell phones didn’t require a brief case, I’m kinda amazed that I didn’t fall victim to some serial killer in the woods or something. Just the occasional exhibitionist, but that, Pranksters, is a story for another day.
But because my meandering lead me down some interesting paths, I often had flat tires. Didn’t matter who’s car it was, I managed to get one of the tires flat.
In fact, my parents eventually deduced that I was a fugitive at large and driving over those road block things, which meant they refused to entertain the idea of “Mooooom, can I borrow your car? It has gas in it and mine doesn’t.”
My second car, a red Honda Del Sol, had problems with the battery one winter. Dutifully, I saved up for a new car battery and clutch, a pair of jumper cables riding shotgun. The problem, was (and still is) one tiny, pesky detail.
So when the directions say, “connect the red thingy to the other red thingy and connect the black thingy to the black thingy,” I still become confused. Which one is red? Which one is black? I know, from The Internet, that hooking up these cables is one of those things you don’t want to fuck up or you’ll probably die or wind up booted off The Island, so instead of simply finding another person and expertly linking the colors before happily restarting my car, I stand there.
I’ll stand, hovering over the open hood of my car, looking inside, hoping that this time THIS TIME, there are a bunch of flying gnomes that will pop out and spell, “THIS ONE IS RED” in proper flying formation. Honestly, if I can’t have the gnomes, I’ll settle for a neon arrow pointing down to the red side of the car battery (although to be honest, that seems less trustworthy).
Sunday, because I am not just annoying but stupid too, I left my lights on for upwards of two hours in my parking lot. Apparently the dingy-thing that’s supposed to be all, “TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF BITCH,” wasn’t working or I wasn’t paying attention or something. Either way, it’d been a short enough time that I hadn’t been particularly concerned by it.
Apparently, that’s the sort of thing that makes car batteries REALLY MAD.
Which is why I found myself searching the back of my truck for jumper cables before realizing, “oh fuck, I need help with this shit.” I trotted over to the apartment office and asked after jumper cables, feeling like a total dweeb. Who doesn’t own their own jumper cables? (answer: me).
The lady told me that while SHE didn’t have any, one of the maintenance guys would, and they’d “be back” in a couple of minutes.
Now, rather than going to sit in my apartment and wait for them, I decided the best course of action was to go stand near the car and appear to be thinking about something.
Me: “Oooh, yes. Good plan. Open the hood.”
Me: “NICE! The hood’s propped open. I totally look like I got this: goes back to the lesson I learned very young – half of being competent is looking as though you know what you’re doing. HIGH FIVE, Becks, HIGH FUCKING FIVE.”
Me: “I can’t high five myself. I’d look crazy.”
Me: “Okay, craziER.”
Me: “Man, it’s cold just standing here, staring at this open hood. I bet I look smart, though.”
Me: “Woah, some critter made a nest in my hood. MAYBE IT CAN BE MY FRIIIEEENNNNDDDD!”
Eventually, the dude came by with his car and a set of jumper cables. I balanced myself on the YOU STOP HERE concrete slab, trying to look all nonchalant, like, “oh yeah, I got car trouble, but it’s because I don’t have jumper cables, not because I can’t see red.”
The maintenance guy handed me the set of cables to hook up to my dead battery and rather than confess the truth, “I can’t see red,” I simply asked, “Can you hook them up? I’m afraid.” Which, to be fair, being unable to see red properly, meant that it was the truth.
He smiled and laughed a little before expertly hooking them up to my battery, then his like it was nothing. When he was done, he said, “go ahead and start your car.”
So I did.
And it worked.
Next time, the gnomes are going to have to help me.