Perks of living in P-Ville: Batteries included

By Jim Lee: PNT columnist

I managed to get to the garage without tripping over the cat or forgetting where I was going. This time I remembered to open the garage door before putting the vehicle in motion and got into the car without banging my head. Things were really going my way that morning — until I inserted the key and twisted it to the start position.
Nothing happened. No vroom sound. No grinding sound. Not even a clicking sound.
Within minutes, I cleverly deduced the car wouldn’t start.
Since no lights appeared on the dashboard, I assumed it could be something electrical. It was a good thing I had purchased that battery charger.
I looked under the hood. I figured I’d find the battery in there somewhere. I recalled from reading the directions to the new charger the contraption had a quick charge/jumpstart setting to get a car with a rundown battery started. Then all I would have to do was drive it to the mechanic to find out what made the battery go dead. That seemed simple enough. I could handle that.
I hooked up the charger and got a reading that said, “Replace battery.”
I guess it wasn’t going to be a totally perfect day after all. Now I had to buy a new battery. Well, worse things could happen in my life than that. So I get a new battery, no big deal. A few bucks and all would be right with the world. Besides, I now had the opportunity to use one of those new wrenches in my toolbox.
When I started to go after the new battery, I suddenly realized something. I had no way to get there. You see, the car wouldn’t start. Portales isn’t very big, but a walk across town to an auto place, followed by walking all the way back carrying a 30-pound box full of sloshing sulfuric acid didn’t exactly appeal to me.
What now?
After I finished cussing out the battery, the car, and modern civilization in general, Saundra suggested that I call some car parts places and explain the situation to see if they could offer some suggestions. Shortly thereafter, I came up with the idea to call some car parts places and see if they could offer some suggestions.
One of the places I called offered to bring a battery to the house. I had no idea anybody would do that.
While I waited for the person to show up, I extracted a wrench from my tool box and gleefully went to the battery. Nine tries later I had the right size and loosened the terminal connections with only minor injuries to my knuckles. I lifted it out (avoiding dropping it on my foot) just as the auto parts man arrived with the battery.
He took the old battery and gave me the new one. He wouldn’t even take any money. He grinned and told me to come down to the store to pay when I got around to it. I explained that I would have to install the new battery first because the car wouldn’t start. He seemed to understand because he walked off with the defunct battery.
I installed the new one with the same wrench — funny how it worked out that way.
Saundra and I went down to the store and paid for the new battery. We both remarked how nice it was for those people to deliver and then trust us to take the money to them later. I dare anybody to try that in a big city.
The moral to the story? I guess it’s to make sure you’re in Portales when your car breaks down, and give your business to an auto parts place that goes out of its way for customers.
It sure beats walking across town carrying a car battery.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-TV radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His email: