No Charge

I love to hear that there’s no charge. Yay! Something for free! But when “no charge” means your battery is dead, that’s not so good.

My little truck for hauling bark mulch and topsoil sat idle for a couple of weeks during our only hot weather of the summer so far. When I tried to move the truck the other day, I turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened.

I’m afraid of messing with electricity.

As a child I got a shock when I reached into the wringer washer to lift out the clothes to put them through the rollers. It’s not good to be standing on a wet floor. Nothing life threatening. Just an ugly buzz through me.

As a teenager, too lazy to use the wooden spoon, I stirred the contents of an electric frying pan with a butter knife. In our old house the kitchen counters had metal moulding. Of course that’s what I touched to complete the circuit. Nothing life threatening. Just an ugly buzz through me.

As an adult I “helped” a friend who had a dead battery. I nosed my car up to the dead car. With my car running, I attached the jumper cables from my car’s battery to the dead car’s battery. Ta dah! Simple! And then things started to smoke and boil. I ripped the cables off and ran for cover.

With history like that, you can see why having a dead battery is more than a little disconcerting for me.

Possible solutions:

  1. Charge the battery?

Truck is parked too far from the house. Can’t plug the battery charger in. Connecting it to the battery would have taken major investigation and tutoring for me to accomplish.

2.   Jumper cables and a friend’s truck?

No room for another vehicle to get close enough to mine. Besides, the friend is busy working and I don’t like to bother him on his time off.

3.   Get help from a neighbour?

Yes. He scrapes and cleans the battery terminals. We try to start the truck. Dead.

He takes the battery out and tries his spare battery. Dead too.

A light comes on in my peabrain. I don’t have to drive the truck to the house to connect the battery to the charger. I can bring the battery to the house. Into the wheelbarrow it goes, and off to the house. The neighbour shows me how to connect the charger’s cable thingies to the battery. Just then I remember that once I had a dead battery in the hot summertime and the battery had no water.  We check the water level. It’s out of sight. He says get distilled water and pour it to the top of the solid stuff you see when you look in the holes of the battery. I’m very grateful to the neighbour.

Okay. One day I’ll go to town and get distilled water. While I’m on the phone the next day, the working friend drops off a big jug of distilled water and sends me an email: “It’s by your battery.” What a sweetheart. I’m thrilled that I don’t have to make a major trip to town to buy a cup of water.

I pour water in the battery, attach the second cable the neighbour had set up for me, and plug in the charger. Then I stand well back while I wait for things to heat up and explode. Nothing happens. I take that to be a good thing. The battery charger is old and the indicator needle stopped working years ago, but I leave it on all day and all night and part of the next day just to be sure. Not that it makes me sure at all.

Now what? Unplugged, the battery sits there while I wonder what to do. I find busy work to do for three days. Then I remember that I watched the neighbour take the battery out.  He unscrewed the bolts on the bar that held the battery in place, unhooked the cables and lifted the battery out. All I have to do is reverse that procedure.  But which way does the battery go? Which cable connects to which terminal? What if it smokes and blows up? And can I even lift the battery up into the truck?

I wheelbarrow the battery to the truck, find some reserve strength to lift the thing. Feels like it’s made of lead. Probably is. And I plop it into place. I think. By some miracle, the cables only fit one way. The big clamp on the big post, the smaller clamp on the smaller post. I don’t have the fancy tools, but I have a crescent wrench to tighten the clamps. Then I fit the bar over the whole battery and bolt it to the truck frame.

The moment of truth. I get into the truck and turn the key. I keep the door open in case I see smoke and have to make a run for it. First click turns the engine over and my grin is huge. I sit there chuckling and tittering and clapping my hands together silently. I am SO proud of myself.

And the repair bill? No charge.

29 thoughts on “No Charge

  1. Nicky Wells

    Anneli, you are a rock star and an inspiration, and hilariously funny to boot. I love this article, thank you. Great title too, and love the ending. No charge indeed, haw haw haw. Brilliant. X


    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      And out of options. My husband is away commercial fishing in the summers, so I’m on my own. Well, you know how it is! Suddenly you have to do all these “man” jobs as well as the woman jobs.


  2. Feusi

    I know exactly how you felt. You were brave and I am proud of you. I loved the way you wrote this little event. And I am proud of a (still?) blonde woman who can do those things all by herself. It’s amazing what us woman can do if the husbands are not available. I´ve experienced this myself – well – we can do it!


  3. Gladys Schmidt

    Good for you! I’m a fishing widow right now as well, but am taking no chances. My car is at Mazda getting a tune-up.
    Love your stories.


    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      Yes, I managed to get the battery going, but I haven’t shaken my fear of electricity. Sparks and zaps. I don’t watch movies about the electric chair. Major horror!


  4. Lark

    I really enjoyed your story. This is just a big step towards watching movies about the electric chair. Nothing can get in your way now. Upward and onward. As my young friend says, “You rock.”


    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      That’s too funny. My grade one students used to tell me all the time, “You rock,” but it was always when I gave in and let them do something fun or quit math a bit early.


  5. Pooben

    Isn’t it nice when the little things work out? A while back the battery on my dad’s care died. There was no indication and of course he was picking up Rajanathan and I had to run to a meeting! Thankfully we managed to get it all sorted! I am glad to see you didn’t get buzzed!


  6. Judy Denney

    Love your stories Anneli!!! It’s times like those you miss having a man around. Just last weekend I went to the trailer by myself and all I had to do was place the wires back on one of the terminals. Didn’t expect sparks to fly……well I skinned out the back of my hand and nearly jumped out of my shoes. (memories). Keep the stories coming, you’re doing a great job!!!!!



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