Copyright Linda Marcas 2004 - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner                                                                 May 27, 2004

                        Much Ado About a Stuck Truck

    Today I spent several hours sitting on the empty end of a display of
windshield washer fluid, propped up against the shady side of a BP station in
Toledo, staring at twenty-plus pallets of bags of cypress mulch.  Why do gas
stations, of all places, sell mulch in the spring, and how many cypress trees
can there possibly be left, after so many are ground up?  I was waiting for
hubby to fix his truck, which broke an alternator belt at around 1:00 o'clock
this morning, while he was on his way home from running sound for a club.
    I spent yesterday evening home by myself, watching a rented movie
and waiting for the vampire TV show "Angel" to come on at 1:00 AM.  Last
Saturday night, I missed the show because a friend stopped by and talked to
me about his ideas on global politics, so I was kinda looking forward to this
week's episode.  The show started; the sun had turned black, demon hordes
were taking over the Earth, someone had stolen the glass bottle in which Our
Hero's soul had been temporarily parked, and then the phone rang.
    "This is The Bill's Gonna Shock You Phone Company with a collect
call from Ron, press one to accept."  Uh-oh.  No vampires for me again!
Nothing to do about anything at that hour, except jump into Harriet, the
Little Red Zippy Car, and drive forty miles north to pick hubby up and bring
him home.  So that's what I did, taking time to give the station attendant a
Red Elvises pencil for being a nice guy and letting us leave the truck parked
there overnight instead of having it towed away.
    We caught a few hours of sleep, then got up early, drove through
McDonald's for breakfast, stopped at the parts store for an alternator belt,
and headed north to rescue Lola the Truck.  When we got to the BP, I
handed out a few more pencils to curious onlookers while Ron replaced the
recharged battery so we could move both vehicles around to the side of the
building.  We didn't notice until it was too late that we'd parked next to some
guy who was sleeping in his car; he had his windows rolled up and didn't
move for so long that we started to get worried.
    Everything went smoothly until The Last Nut, which refused to loosen
up.  Ron made several incantations of Magic Words as he strained at the
wrench and scraped his knucles, to no avail.  He  hit it a few whacks with a
hammer and Sleeping Guy opened his eyes for a moment, proving he wasn't
dead, but The Last Nut wouldn't budge.  We needed a piece of pipe.
    Why pipe?  To stick over the end of the wrench handle, thereby
extending it for more leverage.  Well, BP superstores have mulch, firewood,
milk, aerosol cheese in a can, chips, shampoo, and a lot of other stuff you
might need, but, because they are no longer "service" stations, they don't
have things like a spare tool or a piece of pipe to improvise one from.  We
began to poll any of the passing customers who looked like they might have
some pipe in the back of their trucks or vans, with no luck.  I took a walk
over to a neighboring construction site, peering hopefully into their
dumpsters.  Ron joined me.  Lots of pipe scraps, but it was all black plastic
from the sprinkler system, useless for our purpose.  Oh, and one piece of real
pipe, twenty feet long.
    We looked at the truck.  We looked at the mulch.  I sat on the end of
the washer fluid display and watched a blue heron fly by overhead.  A
thunderstorm could decide to pop up anytime.  Nothing to do, then, but call
our mechanic friend Kevin, who lives a few miles from the BP.  Hubby rang
him up and explained our predicament.  Kevin said he would come right
over, but his tools were all locked up, and couldn't we get at it from
underneath?  We wondered what that meant, and didn't figure out until after
the call that Kevin thought it was the Toyota, not the Ford, that was stuck.
    Of course, making the call was the magical spell that made an
electrician's truck pull into the station for gas while we were waiting for
Kevin, and Ron borrowed a piece of pipe from his IBEW Local 8 union
brother.  Snick, snack, that did the trick, and Ron replaced the belt.  We
thought we'd need to wait for Kevin, just to apologize for calling him out
unneccesarily, but another surprise was in store.
    Battery terminals tend to corrode and then to get weak; with all the
removal and replacement of the battery, one of the terminals was shot.
Whenever Ron tried to start the truck, I saw (from a safe distance) a little
puff of blue smoke waft up from the battery.  Curses! Foiled again!  I looked
at the mulch some more, thinking, "I have to write a Crank yet today..."
Wait, here's Kevin!  He'd stopped to buy The Right Tool, because he hadn't
heard Ron tell him "a breaker bar or a piece of pipe," and his thousands of
dollars' worth of tools, on Sundays,  are all locked up at the place where he
works.  Of course, The Right Tool was the right one for the Toyota, and
might or might not have been right for the Ford.
    Nevermind.  Kevin had the McGuyver Solution to the battery terminal
problem, if only we had a small set of Vise-Grips handy.  Oddly, a small set
resides in Lola, to hold the cap flap open because the thing that should do
that is broken. Presto, all is well, thank you, Kevin!  We offered to pay him
for The Right Tool, but he declined, saying, "I never regret money spent on
    I bid adieu to the mulch, and we headed back south towards home.
Hubby stopped in Bowling Green for new battery terminals.  All the while
that I'd been sitting at the BP, when, otherwise, I'd have been working on a
Crank of another topic, I kept thinking of a snappy title, "Mulch Ado About
Nothing," but somehow, I just couldn't make it fit, because this really isn't
about mulch.  Despite a nap,  I still feel sleep-deprived and disoriented and
headachy.  At least it didn't rain while we were at the BP, but, as I write this,
the thunder rumbles have started and I need to turn off this machine.  The
last thing I need is a lightning-fried computer, after spending today making
much ado about a stuck truck.

love letters or hate mail?