Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back to the mundane

Yeah, Wednesday was fun.

Drive to work.  Park car.  Turn off car.  Get stuff out of car.  Close car door.  Hit "lock" on key fob.


Hit.  Lock. On.  Key.  Fob.

(Silence again.)


Stupid key fob battery.  Well, I'll just lock the door manually and unlock it with the key later.  Better make sure the key can actually unlock it.  With door open, I hit the lock button inside the car door.  Nothing.  Hell, I can't even lock the individual door (with the lock button which I'd thought was largely manual -- "largely" apparently being the key word in that phrase).

OK, it may be a different battery than the key fob.  And it is -- stick key in ignition, turn key, car dead.


Call AAA for roadside assistance (and their new "battery service").  I actually feel a bit vindicated that I have my AAA card on me, as I didn't have my purse or wallet.  (I had plans to go to the Dodger game that night -- for games, I just stick my license, a credit card, and some cash in my pocket.  Although, because I'm the "planning for emergencies" type, my license is in a little pouch which also contains my AAA card and my health insurance card.  This was the first time I was glad I over-prepared.)

AAA guy comes very fast.  He has a hard time using his battery meter on my battery -- he can't get a connection to the nuts.  Finally clamps his meter on the battery and gets a read.  Informs me that, yes, the battery is dead.  Now he has to call his warehouse to see if they have a new battery.

I take a peek at his battery meter.  It's a little handheld computery device with lots of buttons -- looks like an overgrown calculator.  I'm expecting the screen to display numbers in volts or amps or something.  It doesn't -- the screen is a (top) semicircle with a pointer arrow.  Half of the semicircle is labelled with a happy check mark and half is labelled with a sad circle-with-a-line-through-it mark.  (High tech for the illiterate, I think.)  My battery arrow is pointing at the very bottom of the bad half of the semicircle -- a diagnosis that anyone this side of my cat would understand to mean "juiceless."

My AAA guy does not, in fact, have my battery in stock.  I ask him the "next move," which is apparently a jump for my car and leaving me on my own.  So he gets my car going and I'm immediately surfing the web on my smartphone, hunting down the nearest Ford dealer.  A call confirms they have my battery and can install it ASAP, so I start on my way out of the parking garage.

I drive a small SUV.  I'm going down seven levels of parking garage and can't help but notice I don't exactly have brakes.  (It would be hard to miss.  My dashboard is lighting up both the "brake" and the "ABS" errors.)  I sort of have brakes -- I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think my power brakes went with my battery and I have to stop (or slow) the car by pushing really really hard on the brake pedal, a circumstance that quickly brings to mind Fred Flintstone digging his heels into the ground.  I catch AAA guy on the way down, roll down my window and ask him if this is normal behavior for a car after a jump.  He says it is.  Lovely.

I get my SUV out of the parking garage without actually taking out another car, but I'm only going about 5 miles per hour.  The Ford dealer is about 5 miles down the freeway and I really wonder if I'm going to have the strength to stop my car from freeway speeds in the space of an offramp.

Luckily, I do not have to find this out, as about three lights down the road, my car adjusts itself and gives me power brakes again.  I have absolutely no idea what sort of self-diagnostic/self-correcting thing went on inside my car to make this happen -- I just heard an unusual sound, the brake/ABS warning lights went out, and my brakes got responsive again.  Hooray.

So, about an hour and a half (and $140) later, I got myself back in business with a shiny new battery.

I'm extremely relieved that this went down in the morning, rather than at 11:00 at night (when my friend would drop me off at the parking garage after the Dodger game).  My options would have been much more limited in that latter situation.  I consider this very lucky -- I've had car batteries die on me before (once in pretty much every car I've ever owned), but none of them have ever been thoughtful enough to do so just when I've arrived someplace, rather than when I'm trying to leave.

1 comment:

Wil said...

Yes, it appears that Murphy was dozing at the switch. So many opportunities to mess with you left untouched...