January 5th, 2010
Had you been on our yard tonight, you would have seen a strange sight. Me, dressed warmly (but not quite warmly enough), jumping on the icy and snowy hood of my pickup. Some maniacal fit? An obscure part of my 3-day-long taking out the trash routine? Not exactly. Before I tell you why I was doing such a strange thing — and almost in the dark — I feel compelled to take a detour through ancient Greek poetry.
You heard right. I’ve been reading ancient Greek poetry lately. Those Greeks were forever running around receiving signs and portents from the gods. If ever a bird flew by carrying a live snake, and you saw the snake bite the bird while looking over your left shoulder, you knew Zeus was telling you not to attack the enemy that day. Or something. And if you, fool that you are, attacked the enemy that day anyway, you should be not in the least surprised to find a spear through your shoulder in just a few pages’ time.
If ever someone received a sign from Zeus in modern times, surely it was I, tonight.
I say that because, as I was trying to close the hood on my pickup after charging its battery, the hood nearly snapped in two. The hood is supported by some spring-loaded brackets in the back, so to close it, you have to push down on the front. I did so, and was surprised that it was going down so easily. Then I realized, apparently in the nick of time, that only the front was going down. The back was staying put, aiming up in the air as ever.
So I tried to straighten the hood back out. I then tried to get it down by pulling at it halfway back, but just couldn’t get enough leverage to make it budge.
So what next? Why, jump on it of course. I got it most of the way closed that way, then jumped/slid down, latched it in front, then crawled back up there to push down the sort of rusty mountaintop that had formed halfway down the hood where it was buckling.
So… to recap… By this point, I’ve had the battery charging for 24 hours, inflated the tire, removed the bungee cord around the brake pedal, removed the battery charger, coerced the hood shut. Time to start it.
I hop in, pump the accelerator a few times, and turned the key to start. I heard the sickening “aaaaaaaaRRRRRRRRRRRRuuuuumphhh…. ” of a weak battery. So it wasn’t charged enough to crank fast enough to have any hope of starting in winter.
So I go get the car, pull it up close, being careful to leave myself enough room to maneuver between it and the electric fence. I get out the jumper cables.
Then it occurs to me: I have to open the hood again. DOH! I open it just a bit, and hook up the jumper cables.
It turns over a bit faster. For just a bit. I get a small sputtering of life from it, but it fades faster than an enemy of Hector at the battle for Troy. So I have Terah come out and put her foot on the accelerator of the car while I try to start the pickup. This too proves futile.
So I disconnect the jumper cables, close the pickup’s hood with significantly less care than a 31-year-old rusty and nearly-broken hood deserves, roll the window back up, and go for plan B: 4 trips to the road with stuff in my car trunk, and leave the giant cardboard boxes that are covered with snow in the pickup bed for next month.
Obviously I have displeased the gods. Forgotten to offer up a sacrifice to Penzoil, feared goddess of internal combustion, perhaps? Or perhaps it was just a sign that I need a new pickup?
I’m so convinced of the latter that I didn’t even bother to replace the bungee cord.
Terah walked in, and said, “Ah, I thought I heard you writing a blog post.”
“Yep. It’s about pickups and the Greek gods.”
<very slight pause> “Oh, of course it is.”