This last week I buckled under another sickness- this time a nasty cold that began slowly and convinced me it was no big deal but by the end of the week I was begging for mercy. Just being slowed down is hard when there is a toddler on the scene, but toss in super fatigue and then a cough to nowhere, and eventually a never-ending hankie filled extravaganza and it has been brutal. All I wanted to do was sleep this off. Take some super strong cold medicine or relax my muscles in a long and hot shower but these are impossible when flying solo. And oddly enough- this is sort of new territory for me.
I am a single Mother, no doubt about that, but from pre birth to just over a month ago I had someone that I could barter and plead with (and many times I never had to ask) for help with child care. This is a total shock to my system to be the alpha and omega to W ALL day, every day. It’s not something I think I am particularly awesome at, but I know I suck when I don’t feel well. I expect him to understand and dial things down a notch.
Which, ha ha, not happening. If anything the opposite happens because he feels that he is getting less of my attention so he revs up his energy to make me NOTICE HIM. It’s a very pathetic situation and I will put away the violins now because even though I am still under the weather I know when my music cue to stop whining is up. I’ll hush.
But this was totally the prologue that gets you to the story about the car battery. And THAT is a much more interesting and not whiny story. Promise.
So on Saturday Mother (hero that she is) dressed W for the day, armed herself with a shopping list that included ingredients for cabbage soup and hard core cold medicine, and went to warm the car up to deice the windows. Except the car didn’t start. At all. Just that tell tale click that let’s you know- battery.
She asked our super nice neighbors for help with a jump and they weren’t able to get us much of a charge and basically said the battery was probably totally dead. Ooooof. Since I was oh so pathetic she decided to walk the few blocks to the local neighborhood grocery store for cold medicine and soup stuffs and I stayed at home with W stressing out about the new to-do on the top of our list: car battery.
It really was one of those moments where I couldn’t focus on anything but the now dead car sitting in front of the house. Total tunnel vision. But I couldn’t figure out how on earth I was going to get a new battery into the car without paying for a tow. 24 hours later I had a flash of an idea and I logged on to my car insurance on-line and saw that it included roadside assistance. Which- WOOO!!!
So around 3:30pm on Sunday a nice guy from my insurance company came out with this giant machine and was able to jump the car from the actual location of the battery- which in our car happens to be in the backseat. He also informed me that the battery was well over 7 years old and that batteries were not supposed to last that long and he couldn’t promise that the car would start in the morning so I should go to a store NOW, get a new battery and get it installed.
By this point it is after 4:00pm on a Sunday and I start calling around the places that I know will install the battery for free and everyone is telling me the same thing, “sorry- too late in the day. Come tomorrow.” But all I hear is the jumper guy saying that the car might not start in the morning…and I persevere. I finally find a place about a fifteen minute drive away, not bad, and the guy says he’s pretty sure they can install it tonight. I figure “pretty sure” is as much of a yes as I’ll get and I zoom on down.
I’m sure you can guess that when I show up and they realize that the battery has to be installed via the backseat there is some serious retreat talk. I’m standing there at the counter, totally dejected because the man that had told me on the phone 15 minutes prior that he was pretty sure he could save the day was now saying there was no way. Zip. Nada.
Which is when I hear the woman in line behind me say, “Boo, didn’t you just do a backseat battery for your Aunt Pearl the other day?” I turn around and see a young couple with a basket full of car parts. The woman winks at me and says to her boyfriend, “you can do her battery for her, right?”
And this sort of GIANT PAUSE happens. Seriously. I go out of body and do this rapid fire pros and cons list. What are the odds that a couple at the car parts store will kill and dismember me? Rob me? Steal my car? And why am I immediately going to the place of assuming harm when they are offering to help. I know why- because every fucking horror story or Law & Order episode begins this way. I have been programed to assume the worst. Which fucking sucks.
So I unpause the moment and smile and ask the man how much he would charge for installing the battery and he says he would do it for a gift card to the auto shop. And so then I am buying a battery and a gift card. And when the couple get to the counter with their purchases the owner of the auto store gives them a deal for being nice to me. And then the owner says to me, “and I’m sorry you drove all the way down here and I couldn’t help.” Which- wow- acknowledgement of a goof- that was kind of lovely.
One of the store workers puts the heavy new battery in the front seat of my car and they make sure that I can get it started again. As I follow the couple back to their house I call Mother to let her know what I am doing and tell her that I will send her a GPS ping when I get there. No sense not to be cautious.
A few minutes later I am in the backyard of this large family house and a bunch of cousins come out to watch the guy install the battery in my car. He has my backseat ripped out, old battery pulled out, new battery put in, and seat placed back in under 10 minutes. I am so grateful that I hug him and he thanks me for letting him help. Which sounded so weird to hear.
I honk my horn and wave at his family gathered in the backyard and they wave back and then I call Mother to tell her that I am on my way safely home.
It makes me wonder how many people we encounter that are just waiting to help us and we either don’t see them or we don’t let him help for whatever reason. I feel like this was a perfect moment of serendipity. And he may never think of me again- but I will probably think of his kindness every time I turn on the car.