Today has been a comedy of crazy things happening to me. I’ve been in good spirits most of the day in spite of all of it. I’ll try to be brief:
I was craving a heater that worked and listening to the radio, so I decided to drive Quadzilla (my reliable vehicle) to work. When I started the engine and again noticed that the battery seemed weak, I thought to myself, I’ve really got to check that out, and proceeded to drive off. I look down and notice I need gas. Oh well, I don’t have to be ontime this morning, I’ll stop and fill up. While filling up, I sit with the key in the accessory position and listen to the radio. After filling the tank, the engine won’t start. The starter solenoid clicks, and then the radio turns off. I release the key and the radio flashes 12:00 and I hear the CD mechanism reset. CRAP, I just exceeded the batteries useful life!
I call Amber to see how important it is to her to be at work on time. Luckily, she has time to bring me my jumper cables (why I’m not carrying them? -don’t want to explain right now). It takes her more than 30 minutes to get to me in the traffic. I get the engine started and go home. Within 5 minutes, I have the battery removed, in the trunk of Betty, and I’m off to AutoZone (hereafter referred to as AutoJoke). My plan is to go exchange the battery on the way to work, and I’ll install it as soon as I get home and my downtime will be minimized.
How many ways can I tell you how AutoZone Sucks (I mean AutoJoke)
Keep in mind what just happened. My vehicle started, drove 4 miles, stopped, used the radio on battery only for 5 minutes, and drained the battery. This pretty much tells me the battery is gone. Not much else to say there. There were 3 employees working at AutoJoke this morning. One of them was helping a customer, the other two seemed to be avoiding everything resembling work. The one that is working tells me he will help me in just a moment. I explain to him that the best battery AutoJoke sells just left me stranded at the gas station after powering my radio for 5 minutes. He clamps on his pocket PC sized computerized battery tester and 5 seconds later says, “no sir, this battery is fine, you have another problem”. I locked up for a bit. I didn’t even think there is a question about the condition of this battery. I asked him if he had a real load tester in the store to use, and he said, “nope, this tester is the best you can get, and it is all we have”. Nice, AutoJoke only uses testing equipment that passes bad parts. (*1) He tells me it is probably a loose ground wire. I think about that for a bit and ask him to take a look at the huge indention where my battery cable caved in the lead mounting point on the battery and asked him if he thought that was tight enough. Now I’m going through my “what am I going to do next” questions. He offers to just replace the battery under warranty for me. I say, yes, lets do that. He looks up my purchase records and let me know that I’m 3 months out of the 3 year free replacement period. Bummer. Then he says the warranty credit will be $63. Then he tells me he will sell me the new battery at the $75 price I paid 3 years ago instead of the current $80 price. So I’ve already got my credit card out and I’m ready to be done with this disaster. He says “that will be $35”. Something inside me (engineer/math kind of thing) wouldn’t let it go. OK, $75 minus $63 is about $12, HOW IN THE HELL did we get to $35??? This conversation takes another 5 to 10 minutes, and this guy is raising his voice at me to explain it. After I point out that raising his voice doesn’t help me understand his special math, we start going through it all again. Its bullshit like this that makes me hate big business. Some ass-clown at AutoJoke corporate has devices this stupid f-ing convoluted way of mis-representing everything so that more money leaves my pocket and goes into their cash registers. (*2) Another reason AutoJoke sucks is that the store has more air fresheners than tools for sale. (*3)
I’d like to Get Stuck in Rush Hour on Central Expressway Please.
So when I put the battery in the trunk, I notice that the one gallon container I put vegetable oil in is now almost full. I see that diesel fuel is occupying the top two-thirds of the container… that dang solenoid valve doesn’t seal perfectly. As I’m driving on Central, I get the bright idea, “hey, just switch over to run on vegetable oil for the ride to work, that should use up the gallon of fuel, problem solved.” Problem is that it was cold this morning, and the “tank” and 4 feet of hose going from the “tank” to the heated filter is, well, unheated, and that peanut oil is pretty much solid at 35 degrees. This all makes sense as I try to cut over 4 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic with no remaining engine power. I did it, just barely. Luckily, the battery in Betty is in good condition, and I’m able to crank the engine enough (on diesel fuel) to purge out the vegetable oil or whatever and I get it started. When I do, I create the biggest cloud of stinky white smoke I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure Plano fire department was already on their way. I could feel the eyes of all those cars driving by taking pity on me for driving such a piece of shit car. If they only knew I do it for fun!
And Some More at Work
OK, so that was the morning drive in. Lots of excitement. At work, I find out that our IT department still didn’t fix my expired software license issue that kept me from working all day yesterday. After unreturned calls and emails to IT headquarters, I learn they passed my problem off the the IT guy in Atlanta. I talk to him and he says I need to call the software companies’ tech support directly. Good grief.
On the way home, I notice that Betty is overheating. Then, the temperature drops to normal, then rises to hot again… like it is almost out of coolant. When I get home and try to pop the hood open, the hood release breaks off. Crap, this just isn’t a good day! I have to add one and a half gallons of water. I don’t know where all that coolant went, it isn’t leaking, and it’s not in the oil. I’ll have to figure that out later, maybe when I fix the hood release, and the heater, and that leaky solenoid valve too.