I had to cover a story at sunset last night, on the back lawn area of the courthouse. (Yep, this is a photo of the courthouse in question, thanks to Wikipedia, of course.) It was a somber, candlelight commemoration ceremony and quite shaking in and of itself.
It was cold! As soon as the sun set, the temps dropped fast and hit the 30s with no problem. I had on a wool blazer that was more than warm enough when I left the house, so I was more than ready to get into my truck and crank the heat up.
And that's what I did. High idle didn't last long, so I backed out of my slant parking space, put the truck in drive and... Stopped. That truck stopped right in the middle of the street that runs behind the courthouse, blocking both sides of the street's parked cars. The truck died like a UFO had flown over and brought everything electrical to a screeching halt. But, no UFO to blame it on. I knew what it was though, so I popped the hood and jumped out of that truck faster than I've moved in years and jiggled the usual battery cable that is usually the culprit when I turn the key and nothing happens.
I left the driver side door open to hear the dinging when I get the connection made. Ah, there it is. By the time I made it to the door to reach in to crank the ignition, it went off again. So, back to the front to jiggle the ground wire again. Nothing. Damn! So, I jiggle some more and harder, wishing I could kick the thing, anything to get it to connect so that I could get out of there before anyone notices the poor, hapless reporter from the local newspaper wrestling with her dirty pickup truck.
"Do you need a jump?" A sweet little voice behind me tells me in no uncertain circumstances that I did not get out of the situation unnoticed. I turned around in embarrassment to find a very well dressed, middle aged woman standing in front of her very new Toyota Camry. "I have cables if you don't," she says to me.
"I have cables. I don't know if it will help, but I'll try, and thank you so much!" Talking like a NYer who's had way too many cappuccinos, the words flew out of me in a rush - as I ran around the side of the truck (to hide) to dig for my jumper cables.
"Do you know how to do this? I sure don't. Will it hurt my car to jump a truck?" Ah, if she only knew how many vehicles I've jumped in my lifetime. "Yes, I know how. No, it won't hurt your car." And I proceeded to hook things up like a pro.
Ah, the ding ding of the warning-door-is-open-with-keys-in-the-ignition comes on. I reach in, turn the key and click-click-click-click. Contact made, not enough power, and back to nada. I didn't think it would work.
So, over comes a police officer that was a part of the ceremony. He jiggles my connections, flashes his uber flashlight on everything, then declares that my alternator is dead. So, he and the minister (I'm sure my face was neon red by now) push my truck out of the middle of the street and back into a parking slot.
I thanked and thanked the woman who donated her car battery to the situation over and over. And now, the reality hits. I have a dead vehicle and home is a good 20 miles away in the country. The minister offered to take me home, and then another well dressed with a new car woman came up and offered a ride. I almost didn't get into her car, it was so clean. (I get the same feeling when faced with white carpeting.) I wouldn't let her drive my dirt road as I could see she was having trouble driving at night on the highway, and I told her I would walk my road home. I thanked her profusely. Woe is me, no moon. But, it was nice to walk anyway.
So, this morning, my son and I get a ride to my truck from a friend. Toolbox in hand and ready for anything we were. It took just a bit more jiggling, no jumping whatsoever, a little tightening of the connectors and the puppy fires right up.
Not only will my name be known around town for the articles I put in the newspaper, but also the one who's truck died at the courthouse. Wonderful. Just call me Ms. Murphy.
Oh, now my toolbox is a permanent fixture in my truck. Hindsight is great!