Girl, Get You Some Jumper Cables

When I drove into the parking spot at the drug store, I saw the older gentleman struggling with his car. I turned off my engine, got out of my vehicle, and made it halfway down the walkway that would lead me to the store before I realized. It was his battery. 

I should know it when I see it. I spent the better part of the summer of ‘00 begging strangers to ‘Give me a jump?’ and frankly, I’m lucky to have survived the experience. 

But it taught me a lot. I thought as I got closer to him that I probably knew more about car batteries than he did. I knew instinctively that I should approach my offer with respect and deference. 

“Excuse me, sir. It seems to me that you require assistance. Though I am but a lowly woman, I believe I may offer some humble help, if your manly disposition allows…” is perhaps what I should have said. 

Instead, I just spat out “You need a jump?” 

He was clearly embarrassed, and I did my best to ensure that our conversation would not be noticed by other patrons. 

“Maybe so”, he offered. “But, I might not have jumper cables.” He said it like that would be the end of that. At no point did he think that I would have them, or know how to use them if I did, so I did feel a twinge of pride as I responded: “That’s ok if you don’t, I do!”

He rummaged around in his trunk, though I could tell by his movements that he knew he wouldn’t find a cable. I used the opportunity to move my car next to his and popped my hood. 

By the time I had exited my car and gone to the rear, he was ready to confess. 

“I don’t have any cables.”

I whipped open the hatchback door to my small SUV and yanked the cables out from under the compartment where they have resided since the ink was wet on my purchase agreement. 

“Did you pop your hood?” He fumbled a bit, adjusting his cowboy hat as he opened the driver’s side door and mumbled something about it being his wife’s car. I smiled and shrugged, offering one of the only tidbits of engine knowledge that I possess: “Maybe it’s the alternator. That happened to me.” 

He nodded generously and finally gave me a smile. “I’ll ask them when I call the mechanic”. 

I got to work, unraveling and connecting.

First, make sure both vehicles are completely off. Beginning with the POSITIVE clamp, which is shaded red, connecting to the DEAD car first, then the car with the charged battery, onto the positive terminal.

I then connected the NEGATIVE clamp, which is the black one, to the negative terminal.  Again, first to the dead car and then the live one.

This is so you don’t accidentally zap yourself as you are connecting, and that’s why you don’t begin with the LIVE car. Still, I treated the other end of the cables with caution, even before I connected to the live car, in case there was any latent charge in the battery. 

I started my engine and gently suggested to my new buddy to wait a moment. It has been my experience that the longer the “dead” car stays on the cables before being started, the better the chance of it starting.

He was kind and appreciative. At this point, his embarrassment had melted into gratitude and bemusement. He coyly mentioned that he was long-retired military. His smirk suggested that at one point in his journey, this would have been a laughable interaction. He would have solved this problem with a wave of the hand. 

When he turned his key in the ignition, it roared to life right away. The relief was palpable for both of us. He (very wisely) left the engine running as he approached me. “What can I… do I owe you?” I interrupted him, laughing. “No, of course! I’ve gotten tons of jumps, man, I’m just glad I could help.” 

I walked away, grateful for the interaction and the opportunity to have proven myself.

I love my jumper cables.
If you have the means, I highly recommend that you pick some up.

***Remember, Red and Dead – Red is positive, connect the dead car first! ******

Jeanne Rougelot
Jeanne is a proud Westbanker and wife, full time working parent, and middle child. She and her insanely handsome husband of 20 years have 2 daughters, aged 15 and 7. Her hobbies include cake decorating, reading, devouring movies, and slowly turning into her mother. When they are not patronizing local restaurants, she and her family enjoy driving around to take in the surroundings of their home, from Lafitte to Folsom, and all points in between. She is a passionate advocate for Ovarian Cancer Awareness.


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