Thursday, July 06, 2006

Car trouble, oh yeah

We have 2 cars. One is a newer Passat Wagon. For the kid, ya know. We also have the car that Lily had before we met: a 1990 Honda Civic hatchback. We call it 'Lil Brown. It's worth about 500 bucks, but that wasn't enough money for us to use it as a trade-in for the new car. Much better to have a spare car lying around if you need it. And if you have a bunch of spare cash for repairs lying around that you don't need either.

'Lil Brown has become nothing more than a parking space taker in our neighborhood and a weekly taker of my time when I have to move it for street cleaning every Thursday morning. I have fun making it into a game where I try to park in the same spot in front of our house so we don't have huge trucks and SUVs in that spot preventing the cars speeding down Sanchez Street from seeing us backing out of our driveway.

When we went to the Northwest the other week, I parked 'Lil Brown in the garage, since we drove the Passat up. Upon returning, I saw a spot for 'Lil Brown on the street and put the Passat back in the garage. The next Thursday when I got in to drive 'Lil Brown back in the spot in front of the house after street cleaning, I put the key in the ignition, turned it and CLICK. Click. Turn, click. Oy.

Dead battery. I immediately looked at the headlight switch. On. I wondered if one of the homeless people who regularly breaks into 'Lil Brown turned the switch to spite me. Or if it was one of the neighbors who's tired of me parking in the same spot in front of my house all the time. Lily thinks it was me who left the lights on when I backed out of the garage and forgot the lights were on because it was broad daylight outside. I think it was Gremlins.

So I grab the Passat, and jump start 'Lil Brown and drive her into the regular spot in front of our house. I have a week to get a new battery, but do I? Hell no. I decide that next time I'm gonna push start 'Lil Brown to move it.

I once had 'Lil Brown down in Los Angeles at my old roommate Luke's place in Hollywood and when I was heading out for home the battery was dead. Luckily he lives on a hill, so I just coasted into a pop start and drove until I almost ran out of gas somewhere in the middle of nowhere on I5. I had just enough gas to drive to a station and fuel up, then I push started 'Lil Brown out of there, called LLMB reader #5 and he was gracious enough to drive to meet me at my mechanic's garage near Potrero Hill and pick me up.

Back to present day battery dead story: I'm trying to rock 'Lil Brown out of the little pothole she's in, and I look down the street to see that the garbage collection is happening on the other end of the block. Perfect, I have just enough time to get 'er going and move. I finally get enough momentum to get 'Lil Brown out of the pothole and turn the wheel so we're heading away from the garbage truck. I hop in and shut the door and attempt the pop start. Nuthin. I get out and push again and hop in again and try the pop start again. Nuthin. At this point I'm at the stop sign on 14th & Sanchez.

I look up and notice a black and white police SUV pull up at the intersection on my right. He stares me down as he drives by. Thanks for the help. I look in my rearview and see a green Subaru wagon behind me, so I motion for him to go around. The driver pokes his head out the window and yells "want a push?" I nod yes and reach for the passenger door and unlock it, thinking he's gonna hand push it with me. Then I notice in the rearview that his car is pulling up so close to 'Lil Brown that I realize he's gonna push it with his car. I close my door and we go left through the intersection and he gives me enough momentum that I coast into the right lane and I give him the thumbs up as he passes me on the left. This time I wait long enough to get serious speed going before I try to do the pop start. Nuthin. I try again. Nuthin. I look ahead and realize I'm about to coast into the very busy intersection of 14th, Church and Market.

Then the clouds open and a ray of light shines on an open parking spot to my right. I coast right into it. Whew. I get out of 'Lil Brown and look for the street cleaning sign. Tuesday. And Tuesday was the 4th of July, so NO STREET CLEANING!!! I am so golden. So I have two weeks to get a new battery, but will I? Hell no.

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