Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Little Buddy

So last summer, another adoptive family with a daughter from the Guilin SWI who shared time in the institution with my Nora although my Nora has a memory like a colander so remembers NOTHING of her first 4.5 years in China, good and bad I guess, but anyway, this great family was going to stop by on their way back out to the toolies so our kids could hang. Being the excellent hostess of renown that I am, I wanted to have the take and bake pizza at least took before they arrived, but the Honda was dead like the doornails. When Jane arrived at my door, I had to make her do the pizza run. Lord knows what she was thinking of me at that point, how conniving, how cheap, all true, but not my purpose that day.

But I was not without hope because the Honda is always dead like the doornails because pokey little children can't keep their pokey little fingers off the dome lights and the big brains at Honda didn't anticipate that eventuality and the damn car dies a slow death over night in hotel parking lots in Las Vegas, or, you know, wherever or whenever it would be most inconvenient. To that end, last Christmas, I asked for and received from my father (he will not shop or initiate gift giving, but if you relay through mom that you need something that Dad feels comfortable picking up for you at the auto parts store or Lowe's, he is okay with that, as long as it does not exceed approximately $75, more than that and he'll piss and moan until you think you've asked him for his PIN), a portable battery charger. What I also should have asked for was a short training session because Jane and I got that sucker all hooked up to the Honda and turned it on and it made a satisfying noise for several hours, but did not give the Honda back it's mojo in the slightest. So I'm thinking, Dad bought me the cheapest POS charger he could find and if I even knew where to recycle all the AA batteries we go through (where do you recycle used batteries?) that sucker would have been in the recycle bin too.

That day I borrowed a plug into the wall charger from my across the street neighbor George (an able-bodied early retired airline mechanic who would no more offer to help me as he watches me struggle with huge bags or topsoil or mountains of leaves or porch light fixtures or mountains of snow, or squat, he doesn't have to, sure, but hell, bad neighbor) and got the car recharged. For the next several months, I would cast disdain laden glances at the POS battery charger on its shelf in the garage, wondering what to do with it, not sure how to dispose of it, but sure that I needed to dispose of it and soon because it's very presence was an aggravation to me: POS charger.

So the weekend before Halloween, the little girls had their last soccer game and if they don't arrive on time, the team forfeits because the team roster drops below six if my kids don't play since they represent more than one-third of the team membership. I tell the kids to go load up in the car as I top off my mug o'joe and while I'm pouring my low-style flavored non-dairy creamer (I'm sorry, I like this stuff, shoot me), the little ones come back in through the garage and tell me that the van is acting funny. Oh shoot. It's dead. I can tell that George isn't home, wouldn't matter, the plug in the wall charger takes overnight to recharge. I call Stewart, no answer (what good is a best friend when he won't answer his cell at 7:40 am on a Saturday morning?). I spy Ron two houses up raking leaves, trot up to ask if we could get a jump, sure thing he says, I trot back down, realize that the Honda is so dead that I can't get the gear lever out of park and, therefore, can't back the car out of the garage to get access to the battery for a jump. I run back up the street to tell Ron, thanks, but no thanks, and he says: "We've got lots of cars, take one or ours." I'm am stunned by his generosity, really, we've spoken on maybe four occasions in three years. I don't go to church in the ward, so I don't know my neighbors as well as my neighbors know each other. I overcome my innate reluctance to ask for or accept help. I accept graciously, get the kids, three soccer balls, my camp chair and blanket loaded and off we go in Ron's sedan. I rack my brain for a way to thank him for his generosity and after too long really, this idea should have been immediate, it was so obvious, it hits me, fill up the tank stupid. So I put $30 of gas in Ron's car and return it to him only 20 miles worse for wear.

I call my dad and let him know that the POS Honda is dead, it COULDN'T be related to dome lights because I had been the last to close up the car when I put Hannah Montana in the back the night before, so would he please buy a new battery for me on the way into town and could he also install it for me and I won't be tormented by the disloyal battery anymore.

Dad and Mom arrive, without a new battery, but with his portable charger. He asks if I had tried to use my charger. I admit to him that the charger he gave me is a POS and that all it does is make a lot of noise and then eventually it dies without ever lifting the spirits of the target dead car battery. He hooks up his portable charger and I watch in disbelief as he turns it on and it makes no noise. I think, wow, his charger is really good, silent and all, no big noises like mine. Then he sits in the driver's seat and turns the key! What are you doing? I ask. I'm starting the car, he says. But don't you have to wait for the battery to recharge? He looks at me through the windshield with such a quizzical expression. But the car will not turn over all the way anyway. He says; let's hook it up to your charger. I say, okay, but it won't work beacause my charger is a POS. He hooks it up to the POS, he turns it on and THERE I see my critical error. I laugh, ha ha. In my previous attempts to use what I had assumed was a POS charger, I had turned something on, for sure, but I had turned on the COMPRESSOR, not the battery charger, hence the satisfying but mis-directing noise. He hooked up my new Little Buddy, no noise, and the Honda came back from the grave with one tell tale dome light left on over Mimi's seat where she had been pouring over her haul of cheap prizes and candy on the way home from the school carnival the night before. Kids, can't trust them.

So all's well that ends well: I rented the neighbor's car for $30, found out that its my Dad who actually owns the POS portable charger because mine worked when his wouldn't and my new Little Buddy is a life-saver, works like a champ and I'll never be parted from it or disparage it to friends and neighbors ever again. And the moral of my story is: get yourself a Little Buddy (make your Dad get you one for Christmas, it will make him feel useful), keep it close to your heart and turn on the right ON switch when the need for its services arises and you will feel safe and happy forever, but don't let your friends know that you have one and they will still have to pick up and buy the pizzas. The End.


Nancy said...

Oh we do live parallel lives don't we? I do not own a POS charger or any charger for that matter, but I do have a membership to AAA for the purpose of one of the dome lights in the Honda being left on usually by Jack who just likes to turn it on. However, my 2003 Honda does have a switch to turn off all the lights. It is just to the right of the steering wheel. My lights do NOT come on at all unless I hit the switch and since we have no life after dark I keep it in the off position!

Check to see if you have one.


Anonymous said...

This is too funny...because my Odyssey also had the battery die two weeks ago because of one of the kids leaving an overhead light on! I've always had the switch set so that they can't get the lights on, but I changed it one early dark morning when L was doing forgotten homework on the way to school. I guess one of them turned it on again after school without my noticing.

The interior lights stay on for a few seconds after you get out, so I never noticed that a lone light was on inside that evening. Battery dead as dead can be in the morning. Thank goodness for roadside assistance - more than worth the $40 per year!


Lisa and Tate said...

Forget calling AAA for a battery charge... I am calling YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Marji,
I don't know if you remember me but we dialoged a few times, I love to read your blog because Miss Nora reminds me sooo much of our Xioaying adopted at age3. I call her strainer brain because she remembers nothing. Reads a word 100 times and then....nothing acts like its a new word.
She is my toughest of three girls to raise, often I find my older to almost looking at her as if to say "why do you continue to defy Mom" duh....

Jane said...

You ARE an excellent hostess! We love coming to your house. I remember feeling bad that I was such a mechanical dunce and couldn't help you start your car.

Donna said...

And I thought I was the only single mom with god knows how many kids who lived in a neighborhood with men who enjoy watching said single mother fight with obstinate lawnmowers, haul tons of plywood to the street and struggle to put holiday lights high on the roof while drinking beer and keeping an eye on the football game. What a great bunch of guys!

Darlene in CA said...

Hey Marji, I think you're the only one who could make me late for work for reading about car batteries. Of course I have my own stories of car woes to tell. A quick trip to Jiffy Lube last week cost me $120. I think it was my flux capacitor that was out of whack, or something like that; whatever, at least I got the floors vacuumed, that alone was worth it...

Jeannie said...

oh marji, you are so funny; i love your writing. thanks for the laughs. :-)