Today was a big day. I had quite the adventure planned for Alex. We were going to try something new! So, with great enthusiasm, I loaded Alex into the car. And off we went!
We got about seven blocks from our house and stopped at a stoplight. The light turned green and I pressed the gas to start into my turn. The radio flickered and died. Oh, great, I thought, now I’m going to have to find a way to replace the radio! Stupid car. Then—before we’d even moved—the rest of the car died.
With an inaudible sigh, the car just stopped. I figured the engine stalled. It’s happened before. So, I turned the key.
Not even a sputter. I mean nothing happened. The car was dead.
So, thinking it might help, I turned everything off, and tried again. Nothing. Not a thing.
Being the car-savvy person I am, I hit the dashboard and told it, “You’ve got to start!” I turned the key. The car—thinking hard as cars do on bitter, cold Wisconsin mornings (which this wasn’t)—considered turning on. The gas gauge flew from an 1/8th of a tank to a ½ a tank. The bad lights that say the car needs a doctor flashed on. For a moment, I thought the car had decided I was right. The car was going to spark and perform a rumbling imitation of good health. Then, with an almost audible sigh, it died. The gas gauge, the lights, and all of it turned off.
By now, the people behind me figured out I wasn’t going anywhere. They moved around me. By now, Alex figured out we weren’t going anywhere. He started fussing and bouncing in his seat belt. He didn’t like this whole stopped-in-the-middle-of-the-road-with-a-car-that-won’t-go bit at all. To tell the truth, neither did I.
Across the street I saw a car repair shop. It seemed like my best guess, so I found the hazards (which were a bit off-center and up, considering I was just starting to turn when the car died) and flipped them on. Then, I got out and let Alex out. No, he said in his non-verbal way, you do not get out of the car when it’s in the middle of the road. You don’t. You make the car go!
But we did get out. We crossed the street on foot. Alex protested the whole way. He continued his protest as I asked the nice gentlemen at the mechanic shop for assistance. He continued his protest as we walked back to the car. And when these fine gentlemen started pushing the car, of all the wrong-est of wrong things to do, he really let me have it, telling me in no uncertain terms that I was not supposed to let wrong, confusing, unscheduled events like this happen.
Cars go. Mom drives. The car does not die in the middle of the road. Strangers do not push the car. This is not how things work. As the mom I should know this. But push it they did—right into the mechanics’ parking lot.
Alex calmed down as he waited in the car and the men looked underneath the hood. He calmed down further as they hooked the car up to a charger that whirred and purred. You see, waiting inside a car that is parked in a parking lot is allowed. This is how things are done. You park in a parking lot, not in the road. After a little while with no more deviations, Alex became quite content with his circumstances and even came up to the front of our minivan to sit on my lap. Of course, we had to be buckled up, the two of us together, because you wear your seat belt in the car even if the car is stopped.
Turns out our alternator was not doing its alternating thing. It’s supposed to go round and round at high speed, feeding juice into our battery. It went round and round. It even went at high speed. But it wasn’t sending as much juice to the battery as the car was sucking out. So, the battery died. The kind servicemen charged my battery, gave me a quote on replacing the alternator, and sent us on our merry way. Alex was quite pleased to see the car go as cars should. He was blissful as we parked in our driveway and got out. This was quite a trip, and he was more than satisfied with his adventure, though it wasn’t the one I’d planned.
All’s well that ends with a happy, things-working-as-they-should ending. Just so long as you’re not the one who has to pay for the car repair.