Gross Point Blank

You can't make this stuff up

This past summer, I was at a barbecue in which a lovely woman asked me if we take poetic license when we write our columns. Ma'am, the answer is, I've had days so bad, I couldn't make this stuff up.

I bought a Buick three years ago. Since that time, it gives me nothing but fits in the winter time. It repeatedly dies.

Four batteries, an alternator and 12 mystified mechanics later, I've learned that my car's just fussy, it simply hates bitter cold temperatures.

This has left me in a quandary on many occasions, phone in hand, pleading with a loved one to come jump my car.

Last week, I first called on my brother, who lives in the same town I do. Sure, not a problem, he could give me a jump.

An hour later, I called and said, "Surely you didn't forget?" and, yup, he had.

I tried calling my best friend so I could borrow her husband. But he wasn't answering his cell phone. So I walked to his workplace, the bus garage in Prosser and in front of several drivers, I mentioned my dilemma. Rather than bother my friend's husband, a bus driver told me she had a nifty gadget in her trunk that you just hook up, flip a switch and voila! Your car will start.

We walked to my house. We hooked it up. Nothing happened.

At this point, another bus driver drove by and asked if we got it started. When we said no, she said no problem, she had jumper cables in her car.

She aligned her car with my car, popped her trunk and....the cables were gone.

Reluctantly, I said, "Well, I've got cables."

After three winters of a finicky Buick, my once heavy duty cables were on their last legs. As she was shaking them out, they literally began to fall apart.

Growing up, my mom had a certain way of saying, "Hmmmm" and, interpreted, it meant Big Trouble: Things Are Not Good.

I looked her with a straight face and said, "Hmmmm." What I was thinking was, "As soon as I get to work and meet deadline, this is all going to be very funny. I couldn't make this stuff up."

The second bus driver left and went to go hunt down my girlfriend's husband, as he wasn't answering the phone. Eventually, a man he works with came and, in about all the time it takes to write this sentence, jumped my car.

It doesn't end there. I had more trouble this past Monday night. Buried under about an inch of frozen rain, my sweet Buick took a nap. It was in such sweet slumber, none of the indoor lights would come on. What with the roads being what they were, I just hitched a ride to work Monday, figuring I'd jump it before my three night meetings this week.

I have two places to park my car at my house: the alley or in front of the house on the street. My car was in the alley.

I paid a teenager to come shovel my alley so I could get out of the snow and ice drift and jump my car.

After eight minutes of charging, my car was having none of it.

I threw up my hands in disgust and figured, "It's dead. It's finally permanently dead." The thought never occurred to me that, oh, say, corroded cables on the teen's car were preventing a good surge.

I went back in the house and called public works to let them know that when they came to get my garbage the next morning, I was very aware that my now-apparently-dead Buick was in their path.

I misdialed, and got the police department instead.

I was told my only option: tow the car out of the alley. When I tried to explain that the garbage truck could get around me, the dispatcher wasn't buying it, even though I emphasized I'd seen 'em do it before. It wasn't the first time the car died there. He promised (ha!) to send an officer over.

Alas, this moved me to tears. I admit it, I cried, and again dialed for my best friend's husband.

No officer showed up, but the husband did. Eventually he successfully jumped my car and I moved the fussy Buick to the street.

I did this just in time for public works to come through, plow the snow and bury my groggy Buick.

Tuesday morning, I went to see if it would start. Nope. I called my brother for help and said, "They finally plowed the road, but I think I'm just over-reacting because I'm in a panic. Surely I won't get stuck!"

When Eddie (my brother) showed up, he said that one dreadful thing: "Hmmmm."

My heart sank.

I've learned a lot this current winter about seemingly boundless brotherly love.

That, and to lay off the brakes when my brother's trying to push my car out of the snow!


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