Batteries, batteries

My laptop’s battery is in freefall. When I first got it, fully charged it gave four hours of use. Right now it starts at two–or that’s what it claims. Within ten minutes, it’s lost half an hour, and it continues apace. Time to put $80 into the “new battery” fund. Not a big deal.

Yesterday I went to the body shop to get my car, now dent-free. There the guy told me to run it for ten to fifteen minutes because they’d killed the battery. They swore they hadn’t left the lights on, only that the alternator hadn’t had time to recharge because they’d kept turning it on, moving it, turning it off again, and it had been cold.

I’m not stupid: they killed my battery somehow. I ran the engine for about ten minutes, and then shut the engine so I could run errands. When I got out of the first store, but before I went into the second, the battery was dead. (I couldn’t open the automatic locks. Curious, I tried the engine, and it was deader than Abraham Lincoln’s goldfish.)

Change in plans. With three kids in tow (MLK day, remember?) I went to the nearest pay phone (literally in front of the car) and called AAA, who said they’d be there in an hour. So we went into the grocery store (as planned) and then sat in the car (not as planned) for half an hour waiting for the jump.

I wish I could make this more dramatic, but really, it was a nice day for it. The kids were fine. No one complained that they needed to use the bathroom. The bright sunshine warmed the interior of the car even though it was only 20 degrees outside. The AAA guy found us without hassle. The car started right up.

AAA Guy: You know why this happened?
Me: The body shop guys killed my battery, and they told me to run it for ten minutes.
AAA Guy: Niiiiiiice.

He said that in a way where you know he’s actually switched for a moment into another language, in which “Nice” means “What a bunch of boneheads” and the longer you stretch out the vowel, the more you’re implying that carpet tacks are smarter.

He told me to run the engine for twenty-five minutes. And again, I wish I could make this more dramatic, but–we went for a joy ride. The biggest hardship was resetting my radio stations for the second time in an hour. But even then, it was all good music that came on. The kids had a good time seeing parts of Angeltown they haven’t seen in six years (and in the case of Kiddo#3, may never have seen.) I told stories about when I’d last driven these sloping hills (funny stories about a volunteer organization I used to help out) and then we got home. They had a snack and went to play board games.

So really, not as dramatic as it could have been. For which I’m glad.

Except this morning? Battery’s dead again. I called the body shop and said, “Really, what did you do to my battery?”

The guy caught himself as he was in the process of suggesting I bring it in. I can’t.

Again, not as bad as it could be. I’m warm at home. He’s going to phone me shortly to let me know what his overlords want me to do. I just want my car back.


  1. Cricket

    CAA around here carry spare batteries; the price is reasonable, especially when you consider that you don’t have to make yet another trip.

    Running the battery to the ground tends to lower the charge they can hold, at least with the older type of car batteries. They keep changing the technology.

    I’d be very suspicious for the next week or so, even after they fix it, just in case they wrecked something else in the system. (I know next to nothing about it, but just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean nobody’s following you.)