Monday, September 26, 2011

Like Dad

Today I did something, now that I reflect on it, that of all the people on earth, only my Dad would have done. Thus, I have completed the cycle and become my Dad.

Not completely, of course, just in spirit.

As many of you know I have chosen to become a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad) and home school my two girls. Today was our park day. One that both have been looking forward to for two weeks. Our park is awesome. It has three playgrounds with all kinds of awesome stuff to climb. It has a pretty big interactive water feature that Zoey and Sara could not get enough of.

I even remembered to put them in swimming suits this time. And brought lunch, snacks and towels. Look at me thinking ahead.

Then the call came. It’s Stephanie.

“I’m stuck at CVS. The car won’t start.” That’s the abridged version. You really don’t need to know what she actually said. Most of you probably already do.

Stephanie: “Should I get someone to try and jumpstart it?”

Me: “Yes. It would take me half an hour to get there. Try that and if it still doesn’t start, call me.”

She texted me instead.

Stephanie: “Only other worker is on break so only manager running store.”

Stephanie: “Do u want me to call for a tow, this is sucky I hate this shit and life right now.”

Lemme explain. We’ve called our insurance company's road side assistance like 5 times in the past 12 months. I think Stephanie was worried they’d take it away. Especially since last time I called all I needed was a jump.

Full disclosure in order to maintain marital happiness: She was right. I was wrong.

Me: “I can be there in 30 minutes.”

So I gathered up all our stuff and two disappointed little girls. They were good about it though. They treated it like a little adventure.

On the way I’m thinking it’s got to be the starter. Had the same problem about three years ago and I needed to replace the starter. Sometimes, if you got yourself a wrench, if you smack the starter it’ll wake up and work for a while.  Of course I thought about this after it was way too late to turn around and go back to the house for my tools. I figured that either I’d figure it out when I got there, or I wouldn’t.

We got there. Popped the hood. Something clinked and rattled to the ground.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this look like a dental tool?

I’m guessing it was left in there by the repair shop the last time we needed it repaired. I’m also guessing it was intended as a reason for bringing it back.

“Gee, Mr. Mechanic. Now it makes a rattling sound!”

Except you probably wouldn’t notice such a tiny rattle over all the other noises this car makes.

I had her try to start it.


Yup. Classic “starter won’t start” sound. We tried to jump it, just to see if a little extra oomph would do it. No go.

So now here I am. No tools (except that weird dental tool), two wet kids, and pissed off wife and a CVS where the only tools to be bought are for diabetics and performing enemas.

And I needed to smack a starter.

It's the silver cylinder with a wire running across it.
As there are no hard and fast rules for what to smack parts of your car with, I used the only thing I could find that was reasonably long enough to reach the damn starter.

Stephanie’s umbrella. I’ve actually had this umbrella for about 18 years. May have used it once in the past 18 months. But it rained last week. I figure, why not?

So, I’m sure the other people buying their insulin and enemas got a kick outta this, there I am in the 96° sun, my head under the hood jabbing an umbrella into the guts of my car like a maniacal plumber with a plunger and a man eating toilet.

And that bitch started.

And I owe it to my Dad. Of his many lessons about life, this has got to be at the top of the list: If you don’t got what you need. Use what you got.

Thanks Dad.


  1. And I thank you for rescuing me, but when it rains again, if my umbrella doesn't work, you are gonna be in a world of hurt

  2. That one thing does look like a dental tool to me. Before I read the story, I saw the pic and thought that it was a dental tool to shape amalgam fillings. How in the world would that have gotten there?


  3. LOL that’s great!! My Papa (a retired mechanic) would have been impressed with your ingenuity!! I remember my Dad banging under the car with a hammer when I was a kid. Now I know what was wrong. ;-)

  4. I have had to do the same thing with my car.. only I replaced the entire starter when I had the money. However it still makes that click sound so now because my car is a grand Prix year 92 it has an ignition module instead of a cylonoid. I changed that and my ignition is giving me hell. I have to wiggle the key like Ace Ventura did in Pet Detective.

    I am taking this as a sign of I am not to go anywhere. Last Sunday I couldn't go to church because my tire went flat, due to my alignment on my car. I will post a pic later.

  5. For the record, I'm replacing that starter tomorrow. For what it takes to replace the cylonoid, I can do the starter. Piece of pie. The problem comes from it being a PT Cruiser. The instructions have me pulling the grill off and dropping the radiator. NOT GONNA HAPPEN. I grew up playing Tetris. And I have an umbrella.