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July 10, 2015


My response to any car not starting is to walk off without hesitation and bike my cares away. Yesterday I bicycled through town in the deluge, in water peddle-high and rising. It was not the best day for cyclicross. I’d never gotten pruny from rain before. But, any day on a bike is fun. Today I came back to my car expecting a different answer from it.

Something old Rodgey used to do when faced with any life decision on cattle or cars or criminal opportunity is go and poll all of Dogpatch.From Daddy Maggard all the way down to Young Jake, whose automotive expertise has been rubbed in my face since the kid was born. This is the same Jake who will pee on his dad’s shoes at social functions. While the shoes are occupied!And Rodgey just wishes I could be like more him.

Without no access to Jake, I called my nephew as part of an alternative underage information-gathering mission. I told him it sounded like click click click, and he said it sound like a bad connection with the battry. He told me what I could do to fix it. I told him I can’t do anything like that. Scraping a terminal end seems like it might affect my soft, buttery hands.

Wisdom tells us small jobs like this can be done at home by one’s self or at the shop by a trusted ASE certified mechanic. Here I tell wisdom to shut up. With car problems I’m guided by how I’ve handled healthcare for a decade: by going to a pharmacy and asking a lot of annoying questions until someone who looks knowledgeable talks to me to get rid of me. “And HOW much melatonin can I legally take, legally?”

I went to AutoZone and threw myself on the mercy of the redshirts. I’ve always had great luck with this tactic. They look at me and can’t control their pity when I tell them I think my car is mad at me. This is what I’ve done ever since we lost Danny the Drunken Mechanic to Oklahoma after his third Missouri DWI. I’ll walk into the place, pick up a can of patch-a-flat and say something like, “Can I spray this into a full tire as a preventative measure?”Immediately they know who they’re dealing with and what must be done.

See, I’m the kinda guy who has the same amount of interest in automotives as I do in other men. Every few years I’ll stop and wonder, hey what makes them do what they do? What’s going on inside? And then something shiny will catch my eye and I’ll wander off onto another exploit. I don’t care to fix a car. I’m just not automotivated.

A gentleman came up to the counter and I told him about my needs. A little while in I recognized him as the guy who fixed my car the last two times I brought it into AutoZone. That matters. That means there’s something different going on here. We have a RELATIONSHIP. And he never accepts any of the side money I offer him. He was there when I poured WAY too much oil into my engine. He replaced my tail light another time. Someday I’ll learn his name. I know it’s clearly printed on his name tag, but I didn’t want to be so invasive as to look.

I bought some grease from him, and went to leave with myViceGrips and a smile as he said, “Here I’ll help ya with that.” He scraped corrosion from the posts, warned me about getting acid on my clothes and told me he didn’t need a Coke for himself or the battery. Together we established not one, not two, but three connections. On the positive, the negative and with each other. And he put grease on my posts to stop future corrosion, and didn’t even bat an eye when I said the posts are the nipples of the battery.