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It Is Always Better To Stare Stupidly At A Problem Than Actually Fix It


Being 32 years old, I’ve had experience with cars. Primarily driving them, occasionally riding in them, and very rarely scoring a makeout session in one (ah, Junior High, how I miss thee). And while my father made it his mission in life to both capture every fucking event 57 times with his camera, he also wanted to push a daughter out into the world who could do… erms…. stuff -n- things. Like change a tire or hammer something.

I never did learn how to fix a tire (although I can hammer like a motherfucker).

Once my father realized that I routinely fell UP the stairs, he decided “use of a car jack” may be better suited to someone like, oh, I don’t know…. my older brother? He never fell up the stairs, or if he did, he’d yell at the stairs for getting in his way (to be fair, I did too.). Being unable to properly change a flat tire was problematic, considering my form of therapy for many years was to take long rambling drives alone through the country and down dirt roads, just to see where I’d end up.

In the age before cell phones didn’t require a brief case, I’m kinda amazed that I didn’t fall victim to some serial killer in the woods or something. Just the occasional exhibitionist, but that, Pranksters, is a story for another day.

But because my meandering lead me down some interesting paths, I often had flat tires. Didn’t matter who’s car it was, I managed to get one of the tires flat.

In fact, my parents eventually deduced that I was a fugitive at large and driving over those road block things, which meant they refused to entertain the idea of “Mooooom, can I borrow your car? It has gas in it and mine doesn’t.”

My second car, a red Honda Del Sol, had problems with the battery one winter. Dutifully, I saved up for a new car battery and clutch, a pair of jumper cables riding shotgun. The problem, was (and still is) one tiny, pesky detail.

I’m colorblind.

So when the directions say, “connect the red thingy to the other red thingy and connect the black thingy to the black thingy,” I still become confused. Which one is red? Which one is black? I know, from The Internet, that hooking up these cables is one of those things you don’t want to fuck up or you’ll probably die or wind up booted off The Island, so instead of simply finding another person and expertly linking the colors before happily restarting my car, I stand there.

I’ll stand, hovering over the open hood of my car, looking inside, hoping that this time THIS TIME, there are a bunch of flying gnomes that will pop out and spell, “THIS ONE IS RED” in proper flying formation. Honestly, if I can’t have the gnomes, I’ll settle for a neon arrow pointing down to the red side of the car battery (although to be honest, that seems less trustworthy).

Sunday, because I am not just annoying but stupid too, I left my lights on for upwards of two hours in my parking lot. Apparently the dingy-thing that’s supposed to be all, “TURN YOUR LIGHTS OFF BITCH,” wasn’t working or I wasn’t paying attention or something. Either way, it’d been a short enough time that I hadn’t been particularly concerned by it.

Bad move.

Apparently, that’s the sort of thing that makes car batteries REALLY MAD.

Which is why I found myself searching the back of my truck for jumper cables before realizing, “oh fuck, I need help with this shit.” I trotted over to the apartment office and asked after jumper cables, feeling like a total dweeb. Who doesn’t own their own jumper cables? (answer: me).

The lady told me that while SHE didn’t have any, one of the maintenance guys would, and they’d “be back” in a couple of minutes.

Now, rather than going to sit in my apartment and wait for them, I decided the best course of action was to go stand near the car and appear to be thinking about something.

Me: “Oooh, yes. Good plan. Open the hood.”

Me: “NICE! The hood’s propped open. I totally look like I got this: goes back to the lesson I learned very young – half of being competent is looking as though you know what you’re doing. HIGH FIVE, Becks, HIGH FUCKING FIVE.”

Me: “I can’t high five myself. I’d look crazy.”

Me: “Okay, craziER.”

Me: “Man, it’s cold just standing here, staring at this open hood. I bet I look smart, though.”

Me: “Woah, some critter made a nest in my hood. MAYBE IT CAN BE MY FRIIIEEENNNNDDDD!”

Eventually, the dude came by with his car and a set of jumper cables. I balanced myself on the YOU STOP HERE concrete slab, trying to look all nonchalant, like, “oh yeah, I got car trouble, but it’s because I don’t have jumper cables, not because I can’t see red.”

The maintenance guy handed me the set of cables to hook up to my dead battery and rather than confess the truth, “I can’t see red,” I simply asked, “Can you hook them up? I’m afraid.” Which, to be fair, being unable to see red properly, meant that it was the truth.

He smiled and laughed a little before expertly hooking them up to my battery, then his like it was nothing. When he was done, he said, “go ahead and start your car.”

So I did.

And it worked.

Next time, the gnomes are going to have to help me.

15 Comments to

“It Is Always Better To Stare Stupidly At A Problem Than Actually Fix It”

  1. On January 11th, 2013 at 9:56 am Aunt Becky (@mommywantsvodka) Says:

    It Is Always Better To Stare Stupidly At A Problem Than Actually Fix It

  2. On January 11th, 2013 at 10:07 am Cindy Says:

    Aunt Becky, wouldn’t it just be easier to get someone to go with you to buy your own jumper cables, mark the red one with a piece of white tape, and then mark the red side of the battery with a piece of white tape? For good measure, you could write “RED” on the pieces of white tape so you know which is red and which is not.
    (Hey, I may not be colorblind, but shit like this helps out more than you know when you are laying out audio production for a concert stage and you have eleventy thousand motherfucking cables, and they all look EXACTLY FUCKING ALIKE. You learn real quick to mark each end of the cable with white tape with lettering on it that says shit like “channel 5′ or ‘kick drum’ which is always channel 1 or ‘vox 1’ for the lead singer’s vocal mike. I swear, audio people aren’t always as smart as they act)

  3. On January 11th, 2013 at 1:18 pm j Says:

    That’s exactly the thing I was thinking! Write “Red” on the red side! You’d need someone to tell you which was which, but only once, and you could ask someone who already knows you can’t see red.

  4. On January 11th, 2013 at 1:43 pm Lynette Says:

    Hell, we do this with all our cables at home; we have so freaking many. I’d label my jumpercables if I was colorblind, hell yes.

  5. On January 11th, 2013 at 10:22 am Triplezmom Says:

    Cindy, I think you are the smartest person on the internet. I was totally wondering if the maintenance was cute, and how many exhibitionists Becky has seen in the country.

  6. On January 11th, 2013 at 10:54 am melanie Says:

    I am not all that smart about cars, but doesn’t the red and black also correlate to + and – ? I’m too lazy to go look at my battery but if its labeled that way on them, I would have someone mark my jumper cables the same way. What I get confused about is do you hook it up in a certain order, (like does dead car get hooked up first, or last or does it matter, do you wait until after hook up to start the other car… see CLUELESS) but I can change a tire!

  7. On January 11th, 2013 at 4:56 pm Joules Says:

    Cindy has all the knowledges.

  8. On January 11th, 2013 at 4:58 pm Aunt Becky (@mommywantsvodka) Says:

    I suck at life and car repairs:

  9. On January 11th, 2013 at 9:11 pm Kizz Says:

    OK, asking in a totally honest way, I promise. Why was it less embarrassing to say you were afraid to try than that you are color blind? I’m not color blind but I might start using that as my excuse not to do cut-the-red-wire-NO-GREEN stuff now so I won’t look fearful.

  10. On January 11th, 2013 at 11:20 pm Mishka Says:

    My parents didn’t let me drive my car the first time until I changed all four tires out to make sure I knew how to do it. And when it came to car maintenance, I learned to jump my car, tune it up, change the waterpump, and a plethora of other tasks (of course this was when cars still had carburators in them)…LOL. I actually get irritated when I go into a parts store for something, and the guy behind the counter questions my ability to diagnose my problem just because I am a girl…grrr!

    I totally understand your hesitation, but I would definitely follow the advice given here and mark those cables as well as the battery (since some kind of hide that pesky + sign).

  11. On January 12th, 2013 at 3:57 pm BearTalks Says:

    I like your style! 🙂

  12. On January 13th, 2013 at 6:04 am Melina Says:

    I see an excuse to buy a lable maker.

  13. On January 14th, 2013 at 2:27 pm Roxie Says:

    Marking the red jumper cable only works if you can also mark the red on the battery.

  14. On January 15th, 2013 at 2:26 am Alexis Anne Says:

    I have a mechanic’s telephone number and a AAA card, which is all I know about car repair. As limited as my knowledge is, it’s still more than my brother knows.

    Is your color-blindness related to specific colors, or is it totally across the spectrum? Sometimes I think it would be really great not to care what color my clothing is. It probably would not be as great as I think it would be, though.

  15. On January 15th, 2013 at 9:38 am chrisinphx Says:

    AB-Sharpie marker a + and – on the cable and then you can match it to the battery. Also, AAA is your friend 🙂

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