Sunday, June 7, 2015

Plight of the Drained Battery

I parked in a yellow loading zone about 30 minutes before 6 p.m. last night, and sat waiting in my car with the hazards on until I thought it would be safe enough to leave it parked there and not get a ticket.

After all, I'm not really in a position to pay for parking these days. Or for parking tickets.

But in my haste to get to my 6 p.m. dinner without being too late, I left the hazard lights on. For nearly five hours.

By the time I returned to my car, the hazards were still flashing, but the car wouldn't start. I'd drained my battery just enough to light up the dashboard but not to go anywhere.

Thankfully, I didn't freak out. I'd been through this once before in my Honda Fit. I knew how it worked. I wasn't worried.

But when my AAA battery serviceman arrived and tested my battery, the meter didn't tell him to charge and retest. It told him that the battery was ready to be replaced.

He said that he was willing to give me a starter charge, but that he couldn't guarantee that my car would start up again later that night, the next morning, or within the next few days. He than made the sound of a gun going off, gesturing to indicate what I'd done to my battery. I'd shot it in the head. The prognosis: certain death. Its days were numbered. At most.

He had a spare battery with him and wanted to replace mine right away, for my safety, for my peace of mind, for his profit, whatever. He's trained to sell me a replacement, in cases like this.

I didn't heed his warnings, and I decided to take my chances. After getting my car to start, I sent him away. I was pretty sure I would make the 12-mile drive home, as long as I didn't stop anywhere and shut the car off.

But then, I decided to stop somewhere and shut the car off.

If it was inevitable that my car wasn't going to start again, and I was going to have to call AAA again to replace my battery, I'd rather know sooner rather than later. I didn't want to wake up wondering if my car would start that day. So I veered over into the parking lot of my local Ralphs grocery store, and with a deep breath, I tuned off my ignition. I ran into the supermarket, bought a couple of things, and returned to my car. This time, I held my breath as I turned the key, waiting for those dashboard lights to flicker and then...nothing.

But the car started. The car started! I could drive it home, park it, and go to bed without worry.

Except I couldn't do that, exactly.

After all, I've been given a prognosis that the end is near. Nobody knows how soon. Nobody knows exactly when. But it's not if. It is when.

So now every morning, I'm going to wake up, wondering if my car will start that day. Every night, I'll park it, turn the ignition off, and lock the doors, wondering if I'll be able to drive it in the morning.

It hangs over me. It would almost be better if the battery just petered out now. Let's get it over with. The anticipation is killing me.

I hope it doesn't last.

Everything is doomed, eventually. Nothing lasts forever. And some things last farther past their expiration date than others.

But knowing that your time has passed – that the end is nigh – is a particular kind of torture. You're just waiting for it to happen. Failure is inevitable. But there's no measurement of it, no gauge. Certainty of what, but no certainty of when.

One thing is for sure: I'm going to drive that car until it stops going. I'm not going to be the one to give up. I'm in it for the long haul.

Related Posts:
Driving Through the Fear
Running On Empty
It Just Gets Worse