Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Footloose carbon footprint pop-starting a car

Last week my car suddenly elected not to start anymore, and I required professional assurance that it was nothing more than a dead battery, which in the end resulted in costing me about $175 more to replace my battery than I remembered as a young hoosier in Granite City, who just went to K-Mart for the new one and threw the old one in the trash.

The only good thing about the experience was that brief window, after my car stopped starting and before the VW dealership replaced the battery, when I was starting my 2003 Golf by pushing the car toward a downhill slope and then popping the clutch once it got up some momentum.

Those who know me best (my wife fits that bill) know me to be hideously incompetent in physical space. As I have said - of course, defensively - to pool guys and handymen and repairmen of all sort (Shakespeare called them "rude mechanicals": rude as in rough, not as in impolite), "I can write you a poem or a song or an essay or a news piece or a feature or an opinion column or a film or a novel or the score to a long poem," but that pretty much finishes the list of things I can do for you.

This predicament of mine made me really proud to utilize and, I suppose, show off my ability to start a dead car by pushing it down a hill, jumping in, and popping the clutch. You can take the hoosier out of Granite City and the crumbling 1987 Cavalier and put him into a Volkswagen in the burbs, but if the VW has a standard transmission, the hoosier will still be pop-starting it when the battery or starter dies.

While I waIted for the rude mechanicals to charge me $200 to replace my battery and assure me nothing worse was wrong with the car, I sketched the little kitchenette in the dealership and the shoe of a Domino's delivery guy who was having his service vehicle worked on.

I enjoyed the pizza guy's stage patter as the eternal voice of the working class. They had offered to let him run the place, he was saying, but hell to the naw, he didn't want to be keeping track of other people on paper grids and counting money for the man; he wanted to be out there alone, a lone coyote with a hot box of pizza smoking beside him, listening to real rock radio, a footloose carbon footprint moving down the open road.

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