Cold Car Battery Chaos, Part 3

What should you always do in the Midwest before driving out of town at night in January?

Very simple. You should just check the weather.

Anyway . . .

So I had less than an hour to go 30 minutes on the interstate. But I needed gas and could not put it off, in a compressed, highly populated college town with far too much traffic. Then there would be driving into town once I got there.

I added $20 at the nearest convenience store with no delays, got back on a street, was soon on the highway, and made the interstate merge.

Watching minutes melt away as miles slowly crawl along while driving is one the oddest helpless experiences one can have. You’re in motion, you’re heading somewhere, you’re doing something. But . . . you’re stuck, only getting there at the mercy of your speed and the cooperation of other drivers and the condition of the road. You would already be there instantly if you could, and you fear not getting there on time and making the whole trip pointless and not getting the thing you needed that set you on the trip in the first place.

The radio helped, and the weather could not have been more boring and I soon found my exit. I might have had almost ten minutes to closing at 9:00 o’clock at this point. Directions announcing in monotone from my phone, I got the main road I needed, then got stuck on a side road into a silent neighborhood. The road looped, one right turn almost looked right but it was only a similar name to the one I needed. I avoided it, found the right one, listened better to the computer directions and was on the main road again. I had less than a mile to go and I knew it had to be coming up soon on my right.

And there it was, still lit up, in a pretty roomy parking lot, the only Advance Auto Parts that had what I needed. Apparently, the only store of any kind that had what I needed.

I got parked, unpacked my dirty old dead battery and walked into the brightly lit store. I parked the battery on their big counter, explained to the guy that I had ordered something online, and did not have long to wait for the lady at the other counter to look it up.

And she told me that she was sorry, but they would have to cancel my order because it was not actually in stock.

A word of advice: never believe in online inventory for stores, and especially don’t take trips out of town because of them.

I was still without a battery after vising nine stores, I had made the trip for nothing, and I had to get back home.

So was it a quiet boring trip back home?

No . . .

Cold Car Battery Chaos, Part 2

Empty battery spot

Who knew they were so popular?

 

When should you change a car battery you know is getting old?

The summer before the winter when you know it will be out of date.

But I bet almost no one does.

And, as my story continues, I had tried three places in town to get a replacement battery for my 2009 Ford Focus.

I was sure that my striking out would change when I journeyed one town over to a much higher population, reflected by two Wal-Marts in town.

So I tried one Wal-Mart . . . and I had no luck.

But there was a trio of auto stores nearby, all on separate blocks but within walking distance (if not for the cold temperature, the night, and the fact that I was not 100% over a yucky cold-flu double whammy that started two weeks previous).

I struck out, hopped across a four-lane road to strike out again, then crossed another little road to strike out a third time.

But there was still that other Wal-Mart on the other end of town.

And then it was a bust too.

(Though I liked the more relaxed, laidback vibe of the other Wal-Mart, and that its location kept it hidden from the worst of the wind and the cold.)

A phone chat with my wife convinced me to call up two other nearby Wal-Marts. They were very polite but did not have the battery I needed.

Frustrated, I was cold, tired and had nothing better to do than eat.

And as I waited for my Culver’s food to arrive, I was able to ignore Navy NCIS on a TV screen and the obnoxious man-boys on the other end of the place when my phone rang.

My wife had found the right battery 30 minutes away on the interstate. It was just after 7:00, and they closed at 8:00. All I had to do was finish feeding my face and get down there in time.

Did I succeed?

Well . . .

Short Stories by Me Now Up on Amazon

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I do freelance writing for hire and have written a lengthy non-fiction book, but I also like to write fiction. And as both a writer and reader, I love short stories.

Conventional wisdom is that novels are everything in fiction, but as indie writer sensation Hugh Howey points out, Kindle Unlimited’s subscription model has given short stories a new life.

On that note, I’ve now got two short stories out, “Where the Alley Begins” and “A Beautiful Nightmare”. If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, they’re yours for the reading right now.

These two stories are just the beginning. From now on, for the foreseeable future, I will unleash one new story per month. While there are a few short fiction outlets out there, there just isn’t a glut of pulp magazines like Planet Stories and Thrilling Mystery anymore. The true inheritor of the short fiction mantle in my view is indie self-publishing, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Speaking of the future . . . I’ve been cooking up some more book projects, which I will reveal more about as we move into the spring.

Stay tuned . . . and enjoy a short story!

Cold Car Battery Chaos, Part 1

Battery dead

The dead batteries look so much like the living batteries . . . how will we ever recognize the zombie batteries before it’s too late?

 

Where do you get a car battery when you can’t get a car battery?

At a car dealer, of course.

At least if the car dealer also has an auto shop.

I should have known better and put a new battery in my 2009 Ford Focus, passed on to become a high school kid car, being that I remembered putting in a new battery at the beginning of 2014. But I soon found that I was not the only person to forget thinking about such things in summer when they would be easy to take care of.

For close to two weeks of increasingly cold temperatures, the Focus held up its end of the bargain and kept starting. Only the night before the problem the little car started and I drove it around a few blocks to keep it from grogginess. But that didn’t stop it from refusing to start the following morning, although the battery showed some lingering signs of life with the dash at least lighting up.

I went through the day blissfully assuming that it was only responding poorly to the coldest of our bout of cold temperatures but I soon got the word from home that it was not starting and the battery was well and truly dead.

No matter, I had changed batteries before and could do it again.

So I messed around with my cheap-but-good-enough tools, finding the correct wrench size for each bolt. (I only needed two different wrench sizes, so that part of the job could have been much worse.) The battery was removed and I knew from experience that getting a new one from the local Wal-Mart would fix the problem.

But I never before brought a dead car battery into a store and then lugged it back out.

Wal-Mart did not have my battery, nor did two other stores in my town.

What followed?

An odyssey. 2018: A Car Battery Odyssey. But if only it had been that boring . . .