Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Friday, July 28, 2006

Missing Gramps and Failing Amps

My Typical Effed-Up Afternoon

I got a call from Mom around 3 pm yesterday. Dad had gone to a meeting with the local City Councilperson in the morning, and was due back around noon. When he failed to show by three, and Mom hadn't gotten a call from him, she was beginning to get wound up. Naturally, Dad had left his cellphone on the charger, as usual.

You have to understand, Mom is one of the world-champion worriers out there. When I was living up in Dallas, she'd hear on the news about a car wreck somewhere in North Texas, and then spend the next two hours burning up the phone lines until she found me. Dad literally could not convince her that whatever poor schlub was trapped in burning wreckage wasn't me. (Dad: "Look, Dear, the burning car is a red sedan! El Capitan drives a blue truck!" Mom: "I don't care! He could've been getting a ride!" et cetera ad nauseum...)

When I called her about 5:30 pm, and there was still no word from Dad, she was getting that frantic edge to her voice. In truth, I was a bit concerned. Dad's not given to disappearing for more than 2 hours at a time. Usually, he gets into a hardware store and loses track of time, or will go chat with his Civic Association cronies for a while before finally wandering home. He's just turned 70, and there *is* a history of Alzheimer's in the family, but apart from a stubborn refusal to admit a need for hearing aids, he's in good health. Also, though Dad can be a gadfly to the City Council at times, he's not so much of one that they'd have him whacked and dumped in Buffalo Bayou.

Dad had some car trouble last weekend, and I assumed he probably broke down again. His starter was giving him fits, and the mechanic ended up installing a push-button ignition to wire around the faulty relay. I planned on taking the bus to the Park & Ride, picking up my truck, then following the route between downtown and the mechanic's place in hopes of running across Dad.

I get to the Park & Ride, and there's my new truck. My reliable, big, clean, spiffy 4x4, the one that's gonna haul me through hurricanes since I'm "essential personnel" for The Man. Did I mention it's reliable?

You can see what's coming, can't you?

I get in, turn the key, and... RURRURRurrurBzzzzzzzKliklikliklikliklik.

Fuck. Not today. Try the key again...


Cue the insane amount of screaming and wailing about my impossible luck with motorized vehicles. Truck ain't going anywhere. Plus, I gotta pee. Things are looking grim.

A very kindly gentleman in a Mercedes gets out of his car, rummages through his trunk, and approaches with a set of jumper cables. "Need a jump?" Hell, yes I do!

Incidentally, I was unaware that Mercedes sedans have the battery in the trunk. What's that all about?

The truck started right up. I thanked Mr. Samaritan profusely, and headed towards the mechanic's place. The alternator gauge showed a strong charge, so I had no clue what had caused the battery to go flat. I never leave my lights or radio on.

I call Mom again, and guess who answers! Dad had finally wandered home. He'd decided to go to a couple more neighborhood meetings, (in other neighborhoods... Dad's nothing if not civic-minded) and "couldn't find a phone anywhere". In his defense, I will say that payphones have been a bit thin on the ground since the advent of the cellular market. Still, Mom wants to ground him for 2 weeks.

Since Dad was no longer an object for hunting, I took the truck to the closest battery dealer and had the battery checked out. Deader than fried chicken. It looked brand new, too. The shop guys thought that since it was not mounted correctly and canted to one side, the cells wore unevenly or some odd explanation. Personally, I think that we effed it up somehow attempting to jump Dad's car last weekend.

Whatever the reason, their diagnostic gizmo readout said "BAD BATTERY", so I've got a new $83 battery. That and a full tank of gas drained my account to the point where the question about paying $50 to go to my 20 year high school reunion tomorrow night just became a moot point. I suppose I could go sell plasma or pawn my TV, but I really don't like my old schoolmates that much...