Monday, November 7, 2011

Why You Should Always Carry Jumper Cables In Your Car

Of course, with me, the answer is "because from time to time, you're a complete idiot" - but you probably already figured that out from the title of the post, right? Ironically, I have really cool jumper cables that don't need another car and are super easy to use that an old boyfriend gave me years and years ago that live in my car. Well, they did until I had my car thoroughly washed and cleaned inside and out about three weeks ago and I took everything out of my car before that. Not everything has been put back in yet. And to be honest, I just went to go look for them in the garage, and ... I can't find them.

Mental Note: Add jumper cables to the list of things to buy from the hardware store along with a new doorbell and a lightbulb for the garage door opener.

You know there's a story behind this, and who am I to keep you from enjoying a laugh at my expense?

On Saturday, Little Miss attended a play for Daisies about an hour from our house (yay for those of us who live twenty minutes north of where most people from her school do). It was to be a fun experience where Little Miss got to have a backstage tour and learn about how plays are produced before the play commenced. Of course, only she was allowed to attend the backstage tour for the hour and a half before the play started. Parents and siblings would cause too much crowding. No worries. Mister Man and I could easily hang out in the car and read while we waited for the play to start.

Luckily, it was a gorgeous, sunny day on Saturday, so once we checked Little Miss in with her troop, we headed back to the car where I plugged in my phone to charge while we listened to some football on the radio and read. We passed quite the pleasant hour where I caught up with a few friends on the phone and Mister Man finished his book for his November book report. Happily, we trooped back to the theater and met up with Little Miss for the play itself.

Once the play had ended, we said good-bye to our friends and headed out to the car. I put my keys in the starter, plugged in my phone again - something I do almost out of habit now considering how quickly my phone eats its battery - and waited for the wee one to buckle up.

Any guesses what happened next?

If your guess has anything to do with the dashboard blinking a couple times quickly then shutting off, you'd be correct. I knew already, and my stomach sank, but I tried it anyway. I turned my car's power all the way off, shut off the radio and unplugged my phone. I took a deep breath and turned the key and heard the expected "click click click" of a car with no battery remaining.

I had just watched one friend pull out and waved while waiting for the wee ones to buckle up, but surely someone else was still in the parking lot, right? Actually, yes. I had three friends who I got ahold of who were still in the parking lot or just outside it. None of them had jumper cables. All of us agreed that jumper cables were something we should all probably carry in our cards going forward.

I turned around to the wee ones and smiled calmly at them. "Ok guys!" I said in a falsely cheery voice. "We're going to head back into the theater to see if someone working there might have jumper cables who can help us get our car started again. Sound good?"

Fortunately the wee ones are pretty adaptable, and they unbuckled their seat belts and climbed out of the car like this was a normal thing - which fortunately it isn't, at least not with me. We saw another friend in the parking lot while we walked to the building, but no, she had no jumper cables either. She offered to have the wee ones hang out in her car and watch a movie while I got help, however, and I took her up on that offer.

Once I entered the theater, no one working there had any jumper cables. I carefully interrupted a few conversations strangers were having to ask if anyone might have jumper cables - the in person version of dialing for dollars - and was sadly told no. I kept trying and got to the concession area where the dads were selling treats as their volunteer gig. Finally, I had some luck. A very nice dad had jumper cables and offered to get me started. We both pored over the instruction manual to make sure we had it right since neither of us had jumped a car in a very long time (which is probably a good thing, right?).

On the plus side, we got it figured out, and my car started right away with the very generous jump. The plus side - see, you've always got to look for the positive lining - was that we were far from home, so we had plenty of time to drive and recharge the battery. And yes, it started again later that night. And several times yesterday. And this morning, too.

So what did I learn from my experience?

1) When you take things out of your car, put them back in. If you don't need them in your car, deal with them.
2) Jumper cables should always, always be in your car. Hopefully I won't ever need them again, but I'd love to be able to help someone else in the same situation someday.
3) It really isn't that hard to jump start a car. The directions are clear, and it works just fine so there's no reason to think you can't do it.
4) When sitting in your car waiting, either have the car running (which I never do because it's such a waste of gas) or make sure you aren't sucking all the power from your battery with your plugged in items and listening to the radio and the like. While waiting for Little Miss to finish Sunday School yesterday, I sat in silence in my car with no radio on and nothing plugged in because ...
5) at the very least, learn from your mistakes and share them with others because ...
6) if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

And that ends the lesson for today. You're welcome.

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Raevyn November 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM  

I never go anywhere without my jumpbox in my car. I paid less than $50 for it at WalMart, and it's saved my bacon more than once since I got it about 6 months ago, either by jumping my car, or by providing an outlet that I can use inside when I am traveling & forgot my wall charger for my phone. I can either plug the box into the wall, or I can use a cord with the male end of the car chargers on both ends and charge it off the car battery when I'm driving. I LOVE it, and for Christmas am investing in an inexpensive air compressor as well. Those are 2 items I think everybody, especially women, should have in their car at all times.

Pat November 7, 2011 at 11:43 AM  

I think I will go right now and look in both of our cars to make sure jumper cables are in them. I'm pretty sure they are!

We've all (most of us have) been there, so no one thinks less of you, and I love all the details you include. It's like I was there experiencing it. Your kids thought it was no big deal because you sounded so cheery and confindent--kudos!

My bad habit is locking my keys (and purse with the emergency plastic key) in the car. In my 46 years of driving, I think I've done that about 8 times. It's usually because I'm carrying something else out of the car and forget to grab my purse.

Bani November 7, 2011 at 12:20 PM  

Yes, I think we have all gone through ... it happened to me at woek a few weeks back... I was in a rush to get inside and completely forgot to turn my lights off. And since I was parked all the way in yawnder no one noticed my lights were on... so short story ...Our maint guiy had to help me restart my car. So I know frantically check my lights everyday even if I didnt turn them on.

Tara R. November 7, 2011 at 6:11 PM  

Ack... I don't think I have a set of cables in my car. I need to do something about that.

Sandra November 7, 2011 at 10:15 PM  

Great tip. I should see about getting some... plus my car is no longer young and sturdy as it used to be... Come to think of it, the last time I jumped a car was senior year in high school. OMG! Time flies!

anymommy November 8, 2011 at 1:37 AM  

And now I need to check that I have jumper cables. I should. Matt gave them too me for Christmas one year.

Michelle November 8, 2011 at 10:15 AM  

Raevyn - Ooo that sounds like a good investment. I like the idea of having the ability to have a "real" plug, too.

Pat - Ooo locking the keys is not good either. I'm paranoid of doing that and really miss my car that had a keypad on the outside where I could always unlock it that way.

Bani - I totally get the lights thing. I actually got pulled over a couple weeks ago for not having my lights on (just driving lights) because when I had my oil changed they switched it from auto to driving lights and I didn't notice because I was driving in an area that was lit enough I couldn't tell I didn't have ALL my lights on. I check constantly now that they're on auto :)

Tara - Go! Quickly. There will be NO "I told you so"s coming from me.

Sandra - But think of how awesome it is that you haven't needed to jump a car since high school. That's a pretty good track record, isn't it?

Stacey - You should. But don't tell Matt if you can't find them. :)

ttmillers November 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM  

I know I put a set of cables in my sons car... but guilty me, doesn't have a set for myself.

tiarastantrums November 9, 2011 at 10:24 PM  

you know what - I have never owned a set of jumper cables (and I am totally frightening myself typing this as I do b/c oh, am I jinxing myself???) Happy to hear it wasn't in the middle of a dark, lonely road!

Michelle December 15, 2011 at 9:25 PM  

Tami - I think it's time for you to get a set for yourself. Or to ask for some for Christmas. You've got to love those romantic gifts ;)

Teresa - Oh I'm so glad it wasn't a dark and lonely road, too. THAT would have been scary. This was just annoying.

Erwin Calverley February 23, 2012 at 5:33 PM  

You are right: jumper cables are a must in every vehicle. Especially when traveling during odd hours, it would be super helpful to have a means to jumpstart your car. Also, for people who value their independence, it would feel so good to be able to go anywhere you want without bothering other people.

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