I’m a Software Engineer, Dammit, Not an Auto Mechanic: My Car Battery Adventure
I hate Home Depot and am not looking forward to today.
Literally 2 weeks ago, I was like, “You know, I’ve had the same car battery that came with my SUV when I bought it in 2013. I should probably switch it out.” Then, quickly, “Naw, I’ll eat some Cheetos instead and pretend each one is a tiny Trump.”
Loki’s wise ass came to visit yesterday, and the battery croaked. No problem; if there’s anything that brings out my ability to hide my misanthropic nature, it’s asking humans if they have jumper cables. I ran down one of the slow-moving ones, then opened the hood. The negative terminal was covered in a full inch of coral blue fuzz, quite pretty really. The car did start, though, with the help of Slow Mover, and I got back home to survey my plight like someone who knows what the hell he’s doing.
I only use socket wrenches once a year, if that, so I’ll skip over the part about rummaging through the ridiculous collection of randomly heavy and sharp nonsense that comprises our tool chests for a half hour. The positive terminal came off without complaint, but the negative terminal was completely fused to the post. I loosened the stupid bolt on the side, tried to twist off the terminal, kept twisting, finally bore down with my full man-strength, and…
THE BATTERY POST BROKE OFF, STILL STUCK IN THE FUCKING TERMINAL (insert loud orchestral outburst).
Right, I know there are some Robert Mitchum type guys out there who would have simply grunted, continued chewing their Miller High Life bottle caps and probably even chuckled (I don’t know if there’s such a thing as chuckling on their planet, but whatever). But before you ask, simply throwing everything in some unwary back-lot dumpster and buying a new negative terminal with the battery wasn’t an option, because the wire wasn’t going to leave without someone getting $400 of my money. You see, the terminal splits into two wires, one at the usual dumbass place, attached to the car’s body, where you can get to it, like the old days, and another one that apparently goes all the way to the back of the car, or maybe Chicago, who knows. Two wires. Why? Really, what a complete asshole thing for someone to invent.
Already-way-too-long-story short, YouTube told me to pour baking soda all over the terminal and then pour water on it. I didn’t see any stupid baking soda in the pantry, of course, but, Allah be praised, Jen rattled through the shelves and produced a modern deco aluminum canister that had a label printed in Arial font reading “baking soda” affixed to it. Not a yellow Arm & Hammer box like anyone ever born would look for, no, a fancy Home Goods thing with a clippy lid. Who on earth does that?
Feeling like an FBI bomb expert, I went back, armed with two beloved (and absolutely doomed) plastic cups containing the chemicals of my trade. On went the baking soda, then the water. To my absolute amazement, it worked, and my Grinchy heart grew three sizes in an instant. Yes, it worked. The horrible metal mess fizzled and smoked, and suddenly 90% of the blue junk was just gone. I half expected a green-made-up Margaret Hamilton to appear out of the smoke, cackling. There was a downside, of course; alarmingly, like something out of a bad sci-fi film, the runoff mixture quickly grew into a frothy, ridiculously gigantic pool of poop-brown poison milkshake in the battery compartment, and suddenly I was in need of exactly 2,629,771 paper towels before I could move on to the next awful step.
After three hours of hammering and going at it with every wrench I’ve owned since first grade, I finally got the stupid battery peg to give up and bonk stupidly into the compartment. I won’t lie; I orgasmed on the spot like a 15-year-old Eagle Scout with his first National Geographic.
So, today. Off to Walmart I go, to buy the cheapest battery in the entire state, and then — and this is the worst part, by far — go to Home Depot to buy, too late, a wrench extension I really could have used last night, a metal thingie I will probably never need again, ever. Yes, I’m in Robert Mitchum mode for the time being, and before that moment has a chance to pass, it’s off to see the Orange-Apron-ed Aliens Who Walk Just Fast Enough To Escape Customers With Stupid Questions. If there’s anything I detest, it’s going to Home Depot. Honestly, lighting myself on fire on a New Delhi street corner holds more appeal to me than going to Home Depot, any day, rain, shine or locust swarm.
So glad it happened on a Friday; God forbid I should have time to catch up on the apocalypse at my leisure. No, don’t even tell me.
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