Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grease Monkey

As you know, Craig's little Civic had a dead battery. It happened after Snowpocalypse II when I helped our neighbor out by giving his car a jump start. My good deed, while nice and neighborly, proved to be a deed of doom for our little car. Our sweet little Honda; the first brand new car we ever purchased. 10 years old and as loyal, reliable and efficient as ever. Little green has followed us without fail and nary a complaint. From Hawaii to Arizona and then on to Maryland, down to Georgia and back up to Virginia. This car is a Smith family institution.

I toyed with the idea of having the car towed and letting a big strong man fix my problem, but the feminist in me (which is buried way deep down behind all my vast right wing extremism) felt as if I should prove to myself and my daughter that girls can fix things too. Deployment shouldn't hinder us, it should make us tougher and more capable.

Caroline wasn't entirely behind my big plan. That's okay; her scepticism only served to further fuel my fire.

In case you're ever in the same position I found myself in, here's how I (wo)manned up to the task.

First, you should consult a reliable source for battery changing info. I could have called my dad, who is a never failing source for practical information, but this time I googled and found a You Tube video. Watch the video and repeat over and over: "negative, positive...positive, negative." You might not need to repeat that chant ad nauseum before you commit it to memory, but I did, because my memory is not as sharp as it could be.

Or you could write it down.

Next, put on your new clearance shirt from Target and take a picture for reasons still unknown.

Now it's time to buy the battery.

You go to Wal Mart because you don't know where the nearest auto part store is and you aren't the slightest bit interested in figuring it out. Besides, you have a doctor's appointment to get to and don't have a lot of time to drive around. Or get lost. Or stuck in traffic.

When you get to Wal Mart and pick the cart with the sticky wheel, you'll consult the oil change/tire dudes at the back of the store and they'll look up what kind of battery you'll need. Then you'll note how heavy car batteries are and you'll pat yourself on the back for religiously attending Body Pump class. Strong arms will serve you well when you're dealing with car batteries.

If you're like me, even in a time crunch, you'll survey the clearance racks. It's the prudent, practical and frugal thing to do.

If you're lucky, you'll find some more shirts for $3, and you'll have trouble passing up the good deals, just as I did.

Two shirts for me; three for Caroline, plus a velour hoodie.

Wal Mart clearance tags aren't nearly as pretty and exciting as Target's red clearance stickers, but the green will do.

After you realize you've spent too much time shopping, you'll realize that it's time to go to your doctor's appointment. You book it to the registers, pay quickly and carry your heavy battery to your car. You'll drive quickly to your appointment and get stuck behind some grandpa with a strong desire to obey all traffic laws and posted speed limits, which will cause you to think bad words in your head.

After your appointment (you can thank me for skipping those details) you'll go home to find your daughter (who went home with the neighbors) outside with her wild gang of friends. You decide having an audience isn't how you want to approach the car battery changing experience, so you vow to do it tomorrow.

You'll even blog about it.

Then you change your mind when you realize your child isn't as captivated by the event as you previously thought. You sneak out through the garage and get it started.

First, you'll need to find some tools.

You might get side tracked by the collection of license plates you have stored away in the Rubbermaid tote.

Then you'll wonder why you have some of this stuff stored away in the first place. You'll also question why you've moved this same stuff from house to house for the past 13 years, when you never use any of it.

Next up, go out to your car with tools and new battery in tow. You'll also hope that none of your neighbors look out their windows or drive by. Looking like an idiot is never a good way to impress your neighbors. Next, you'll take a picture of the proper placement of the old battery, just in case you feel inclined to refresh your memory during the process.

Repeat again: "negative, positive....positive, negative" as you disconnect the negative and positive terminals, followed by the clamps that hold the battery in place.

Breathe a sigh of relief that you did it in the right order and nothing blew up.

Next up: hoist the old, and heavy, battery out of the car, trying your best not to cut your hands or get your clothes dirty.

This is the empty battery box.

Take a picture of the yucky old battery.

Next up: place the new battery in the car, trying not to tweak your back, or once again, get yourself all dirty.

Reconnect the battery terminals. Positive first, then negative. Pray that you won't give yourself a spark.
Once the cables are connected, tighten the battery clamp that keeps it in place.

All done.

But wait....will it work?
I don't know? We'll have to find out.

Oh, I see lights. Yes, the battery works and the car started with great ease.

And then in a fit of great excitement, you'll take a picture of your success, only you somehow managed to cut off your "thumbs up" sign. That's okay; this is a car maintenance lesson, not a photography how to.

Grease monkey.

After you do a Jersey Shore fist pump and gloat to your 8 year old, who is still alarmingly aloof and unimpressed by your new found grease monkeyism, you should wash up your dirty hands.
And lastly, it's time for a victory drink.
My dad would have coffee or beer, depending on the time of day. Race car drivers drink milk.

I pull out the Diet Pepsi.

Ah, the nectar of the gods.
Here's one other tidbit of info. When you buy a battery at Wal Mart, they charge you an extra $9. Once you lug your old dirty battery in your nice, clean car back to Wal Mart, they'll refund you the $9.

I think that's pretty shiesty, if you ask me.

Oh well.
Far be it from me to impede on Wal Mart's capitalistic pursuits.


Sissy said...

I love the clearance clothes. Yay!

And the $9 is so you don't dump the battery in your trash. That wouldn't be nice to our environment!

nancy said...

That's just about the funniest post you've ever, ah, posted!
And the most informative.

Alison said...

The earth is our friend.

I know why they charge the $9, but I can't help but think that maybe someone has another way to dump their battery, legally, and it wouldn't be fair for them to pay the extra $$. But life isn't fair, is it?

Oh well.
I'm not in love with the idea of lugging a dirty battery back to Wal Mart but I'll do what I have to do to save $9 and get a dirty battery out of my garage.
Hope you're feeling better!

Alison said...

See mom, now you can change your battery, too. Dad might even buy you extra atlantic salmon as a congratulatory dinner.

But, he also might say that, while he's proud of you, you could have taken it to the dealer because their work is guaranteed. If the battery you change conks out, it's all on you, then.

nancy said...

you take after me good or bad. mom and laura would not even have a clue and they would worry about getting there clothes dirty. good

Alison said...

Thanks, dad. Yep, good AND bad.

That's why I wore my black jacket, you know. I wanted to keep my new shirt from getting dirty. Plus, it was cold outside. But still, I don't mind a little dirt on my hands.

Anonymous said...

and that's why you're my favorite niece, cuz you can change your own car battery!! Who needs a hubby?!?!?!

Love, your favorite aunt in the whole world :)

Alison said...

Thanks favorite aunt! You're the best. But don't tell Laura, she might get jealous. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh shoot - no, don't tell my other favorite niece Laura!!!! That's why I'm anonymous ;) Actually I was too lazy to set up an account!

We need another vacation - I miss you and Caroline!!

Alison said...

Don't worry anonymous Auntie P. I don't think Laura reads my blog, anyway.

Yes, another vacation sounds lovely. We should definitely do that again. And maybe we'll let my mom come, too.

Alison said...

Thanks for changing the battery. I miss you and Caroline.