Column: We get stranded because we’re not bright

We get stranded because we’re not bright

Over the years, we’ve been stranded on numerous occasions, boats run aground or propellors broken off, stuck in mud, snow and sand with vehicles, gunshot through a fly-wheel (don’t ask) flat tires, engine problems, transmission trouble, wheel bearings, alternators, bad fuel and probably a multitude of situations I’ve thankfully forgotten, but my particularly detestable favorite is the dreaded dead battery. Side note — a battery’s life is three to five years, which is another reason I’m cranky.

Like everyone else who lives in this cold tundra, we plan our summers carefully. All winter as we’re notified of summer happenings, we jot it down, and one particular weekend, “shindig” was on our list. We got up early, donning shorts, hats and sunglasses, remembering money and sunscreen, and loaded our lawn chairs. It never crossed our minds to tote an extra car battery. Boy, we’re irresponsible … and dense.

The festival was all we’d hoped for with lots of sun, dozens of bands, much singing, head bobbing, hair swinging and feet shuffling. An added bonus was watching others dance the jitterbug, waltz and something we’ll just refer to as “improvised” but appeared as though a few young people were having convulsions, which ranged from beginner level to intermediate and then expert. Gar is much too cool for dancing and the only time he ever attempted to move his feet or sway his hips was when he was college-age and had imbibed in a few drinks stronger than coca cola. So, we did the “wall flower” and saved our energy for breathing fire over what was to come later.

Along about 6 p.m., hot and sweaty but content and ready to head for the barn, we made our way to the Suburban. Getting in, Gar turned the key. Nothing. He turned it off, looking over at me and my pointy “ah-oh” eyebrows. Then he did a curious thing that men do. He tried the starter again. I’m only guessing, but apparently men think Jesus might heal it in the time it takes to look at the wife and back at the steering wheel. Nope. Thinking happy thoughts, I called AAA. They’ve helped on several occasions so I had no reason to think they wouldn’t help again.

Let me just say right here, AAA ain’t what it used to be. I will also say they attempted, or they said they did. After asking if we were in a safe place, they said they’d get us help but it would take an hour. Since the temps were in the near 90s, and there was enough juice in the battery to accommodate, we rolled the windows down. Waiting around, Gar popped the hood while I kicked the tires and announced they were in excellent condition so no worry about them being the problem.

As soon as that vehicle’s hood went up, we were inundated with men in varying degrees of sobriety, willing to help. Bless their hearts, they tried. They worked alongside Gar to jump the battery, but it was almost as stubborn as I and wouldn’t comply. I got ahold of a rep from a service garage who did come out, but he mentioned he had a collision center and not a repair place, and didn’t know much about cars. I called AAA to mention it had been an hour and still no help. I ended up calling them five times in three hours and finally the woman on the other end told me if I could get my own wrecker and send them the bill, they’d appreciate it. With no motel vacancies and no other choice, we called a wrecker from home and waited.

As it got dark, it got less fun as the mosquitos happily joined us inside the car, but the battery was too defunct to close the windows. One young man, who’d without a doubt been partying hearty all day, strolled by and told us stories about his life, including that he sometimes ate mushrooms and had out-of-body experiences where he would pretend to be somewhere else. I saw Gar nod and knew his thought, “Marriage would do this too.” 

Promptly at 11 p.m., our helper arrived, hooked up the battery pack to the alternator bracket and bypassed the ground on the battery. That Suburban started like it knew what it was doing. I shrieked in disbelief and amazement, “What was that? Are you a magician?” He laughed, “It’s better to be lucky than smart, thank goodness I’ve usually been lucky.”

So … are you luckier when you’re not dumb? Asking for a friend.

Trena Eiden [email protected]


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