Monday, January 13, 2003

This car will self-destruct in 90 seconds

While driving home Saturday night I noticed that my dashboard lights looked a little dimmer. I went into full denial mode and assumed that it wasn't my car that was having problems, but that I was just getting old and my night vision was going. That seemed like a less stressfull explanation at the time. On Sunday, I drove to the mall (about 1/2 mile away) and watched as the little battery needle went from the happy 13 volt mark down past the smug 8 volt mark. It hit the sad 0 Volt mark right as I got into the parking lot. Dead car.

Some friends came by and we jump started the car. After several attempts of getting the car running smoothly, we basically learned that a jump start would give me about 90 seconds of driving time. We decided to make a run to the Sears automotive shop, 2 blocks away. We knew it was closed (Sunday night), but figured I could leave the car there overnight. We hooked up the batteries, got them charging up, and then when the needle hit 13 volts BAM! We ripped the cables off, slammed the hood shut and I peeled out of the garage, skidded on to Central Avenue and hit a red light. Traffic lights can be remarkably slow as you watch your battery needle slowly tick away the precious seconds. I made it to the Sears shop, but they don't have a parking lot! My car died in the alley way behind the shop.

We thought about pushing the car on to the street and parking it overnight, but of course I still don't have my registration stickers. Bad idea. So my car would have to make it home. Only 4/10 of a mile to go. We figured that instead of taking the main road through the city, I'd take a parallel side street and some other alleys and hopefully avoid some of the traffic and the lights. So we charged up the car again, slammed down the hood and I floored it. It was kind of tricky driving on the side streets, because they don't have street lights. And I certainly couldn't turn on my headlights, because they would drain the battery even more quickly. I was racing along the back streets and narrow alleys of Glendale in the dark. Fortunately, no cops.

Do I have my license? Yes!
Do I have registration? No.
Do I have insurance? Yes!
Does my car run? No.

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