Real Life On Hold - these are the adventures of California native Travis Emmel, as he takes time off from the rat race to travel and see the world.

Journal Entries

A Tale of Two Batteries

Monday, February 26, 2007

A lot of people ask me how I spend my free time now that I’m not putting in a full 40 hours at work every week. Well today, for example, I spent a good chunk of my day solving car problems.

I got into my car this morning, planning stop in at work for a couple hours to tie up the last of the loose ends, turned the key and was greeted with…nothing. Not even the standard click-click-click of an ailing battery and the dashboard lights emitted only the slightest sign of life. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I had been warned that the battery was on its way out a few months ago when the car was in for service. However, being of the mentality that I had to squeeze every last drop of electricity out of its cells, I opted to postpone the battery’s replacement.

Unfortunately, I had not been expecting a catastrophic failure and was prepared to swap the battery when the car began to require verbal coaxing and encouragement to start. Faced with the situation at hand, I did not have that luxury and instead decided to give the AAA a call, get a jump and head over to Napa to buy a new battery. Amazingly, I had a service truck at my door within 15 minutes (kudos to AAA) and the guy confirmed that the battery was, in fact, dead. “Damn boy, you really got everything you could out of this one!” I beamed with pride, knowing that my battery had lived a long and fulfilling life.

Before jumping the car, the tow-truck driver offered to sell and install a battery for me on the spot. Said it was $100 and they only carried the best quality replacements. Examining the situation (instant gratification and no work on my part but potentially sketchy battery versus spending an hour going to Napa, swapping a battery and saving a few bucks) I opted to go with the latter choice, figuring I had the extra time and given my current income scenario, saving a few bucks couldn’t hurt.

We got the car started, so I threw some tools in the trunk and I drove straight to Napa. Went inside and waited about 15 minutes before getting to the counter. Offered up my make, model and year and after deciding between the ‘I’m going to sell my car tomorrow and it just has to start until then’ battery and the ‘I actually need my car to run’ battery, was told a suitable replacement would be pulled from the back for me in a matter of minutes. At the time, I noticed I was only saving myself about $15 by going through this rigmarole.

As promised, the counter guy delivered the battery to me and I headed out to the parking lot to install it in the car. Got the dead battery out without a hassle and slipped the new one in. Installed the accompanying bracket and was ready to install the cables when I noticed that the posts on the battery were in a completely different orientation than the original unit. Naturally, one of the cables would not reach its respective post.

Annoyed, I removed all of the cables that did fit, uninstalled the bracket and pulled the new battery from the car. With both batteries in tow, I returned to the parts counter (after another 15 minute wait, of course, which gave me plenty of time to reconsider what saving $15 really meant to me). The guy who’d helped me previously was now at lunch, so I got hooked up with another worker. Luck was on my side, however, as the second guy was much more in tune with what was going on. As soon as he saw the battery, he mentioned that, “this here’s a 25 series, just like I run in my car; I don’t know what the hell Bill was trying to do selling you that other battery; musta just wanted to go to lunch real bad.” And with that, he walked over to one of the batteries on a shelf in the middle of the store and brought it back over to the counter. “This one will do you just fine.” ‘This one’ turned out to be $15 cheaper, had an additional 15 month warranty and had a higher amperage rating. Thanks, Bill, way to go, hooking me up with that other battery.

With that transaction squared away, I took the new battery back out to the car and put it into place. I started to install the bracket to hold the battery down and just as I’m threading one of the nuts into place, it slips out of my hand and falls into the depths of the engine compartment below. I listened as it plinked and plunked off multiple engine components but, of course, I never heard that final thud confirming its contact with the pavement and I couldn’t for the life of me see its final resting place. This meant it was time for trip number three to the service counter to purchase a replacement nut so my battery wouldn’t be flying around while driving. Ten minutes and twenty cents later, I was back on the road.

The next problem reared its ugly head when I tried to turn on the radio and was greeted with ‘Code?’ The loss of power when the battery had been disconnected tripped the anti-theft system within the radio; the anti-theft system for which I did not have the code in question. With the dealership just down the street, I thought I’d try to see if they could retrieve the code for me. Good thing I didn’t have somewhere important to be.

I took the car’s registration to the parts counter with me to verify my ownership and spoke to one of the guys working there. He offered up two possible solutions to my problem; I could A) pull the radio and get the serial number off the back and call that into Acura, or B) pay the service guys $80 to do it for me. I opted to solve the problem on my own and was forced to drive around for the remainder of the day in silence. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having to be alone with your thoughts while driving.

Little disturbances such as this explain why I have not renewed my passport, purchased my plane tickets to Europe or readied my place for renting.


  • At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    -The PoPo

  • At 10:29 AM, Blogger *britt* said…

    This post has been removed by the author.

  • At 10:31 AM, Blogger *britt* said…

    actually, i don't think it explains it all. i would think that you would want to get away from these little disturbances asap. isn't part of this whole adventure so you can be alone with your thoughts and not interrupted by real life? i'm just saying...
    ps - rigmarole ... lmao

  • At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At least you saved $15...or $14.80...hhaaHHAAA! I'm finding it hard to be sympathetic as I work 10 hr days trying to make clients happy and meet deadlines. However, driving in silence is only cool for a bit when there is new beautiful scenery. Soon you will be on that road. Now get your snizzle in order...


  • At 5:03 PM, Blogger Travis said…

    That's $29.80, thank you very much!

  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Spare! said…

    Hell, jumper cables would have been a cheaper investment and an easy way to meet chicks!


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Copyright 2007, Travis Emmel