The Scenario: Kids had been loaded into the van, ready for an hour-long drive. I turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. Turned it again. Nothing. Of course, third time is a charm, so I tried again.
Third time was not the charm. Nothing.
Clint used his manly-manliness to push my disabled vehicle out of the garage so we could attempt to jump the battery. It was deader than dead. It was so dead, in fact, that it wouldn’t even unlock, which meant I had to scramble to the back of the car, dangle myself above the hatch to fish my way, one-handed, past a stroller, some random clothes and other trunk paraphernalia to secure the only set of jumper cables we own.
In our marriage, when I seem to have things under control, Clint doesn’t hesitate to let me take charge. This is usually a smart move on his part. Today, it wasn’t.
Today, I acted like I knew how to jump a car battery with that same air of “I know what I’m doing” that causes him to back off and let me do my thing. Within moments, I had successfully secured the positive cable to my positive battery block, connected to the positive cable to Clint’s car, then his negative, then…
“I know I need to ground this negative cable,” I thought to myself, hesitating. Then, I started working out the facts in a rapid stream of thought. “If I want to ground something, I want it to not conduct electricity, right? Like, if I were in a lightning storm, I would want to be in a car, because the rubber tires would absorb the electricity. I should ground this by connecting it to something rubber.”
(Note: I don’t actually know if that is truly a way to stay safe in a lightning storm, so you probably shouldn’t take that to heart. Lightning is not one of my areas of expertise. Apparently, neither is jumping a car battery.)
I finished off the circuit by connecting the negative cable to a rubber piece that was on the inside of the hood.
Clint revved his engine. I turned the key. Nothing.
We waited a minute. I tried again. Nothing.
“Man, your battery must be totally dead,” Clint offered.
“Maybe our jumper cables suck,” I suggested, like anyone who knows exactly what they’re doing, but really doesn’t, and needs to blame something else.
I called across the street to our neighbor, “Hey! Do you have jumper cables?”
“In my other car,” he said, motioning to the spot where his car was normally parked, but was being used by his wife.
Another neighbor was outside and heard my request. “I have cables,” he said. He fished them out from his garage and handed them over.
“Oh yeah, baby. Now these are jumper cables,” I thought to myself. After all, they were heavy, they had bulk. They weren’t made of highlighter green plastic-y material like mine. Surely, they would work.
So, once again, I hooked up the cables. I got into the car and turned the ignition.
Meanwhile, our neighbor (the one whose jumper cables were MIA) came over and stood next to the car chatting with us. I tried the ignition again. Nuthin’.
The neighbor whose cables we were borrowing walked by at that point and peered over at my expertly completed circuit of cables. He took one step closer, then two. Clint stood with his arms folded in a manly fashion and I sat in the van like a confused valley girl. By all intents and purposes, it looked as though Clint was the person in charge of the dead battery situation.
Neighbor 2 reached over and disconnected the negative cable from the rubber stop that I had decided was the perfect grounding spot and correctly placed it to the proper grounding place: shiny metal. I turned the ignition.
“Yeah, you can’t ground the cable on rubber. Doesn’t do any good,” he had explained, mostly to Clint.
It was my fault. I unintentionally compromised my husband’s manliness. In front of two guys, it looked as though he didn’t know how to jump a car battery, the first lesson in Manliness 101.
Next time, I won’t try and ground the negative cable to a rubber piece. Next time, I’ll try not to act like I know what I’m doing when I don’t… especially when it may potentially make Clint look like an idiot.
If it makes you feel better, I’ll give you a manly task to do.
There’s some garbage that could be taken out…