Saturday, May 22, 2004

The good, the bad and the dead battery

Today I got that ramblin' urge. Not the kind of ramblin' urge that takes you out of the county in which you live but enough of ramblin' urge to keep you driving for over an hour. An hour being about the time of the Modest Mouse album "Moon & Antarctica." It's one of those albums that has a lot of great lines scattered through it

Somehow between back roads, main drags and intertate 85 I ended up at the Shoneys on Little Rock Rd. After not driving in Charlotte for over a year it was the third turn I took that was a suprise. It was pushing noon and I hadn't eaten yet today. I remember that at one point in my life I used to love the Shoneys breakfast buffet. After today's meal I now recall why I stopped going: it's fucking crap. It's nothing but burnt and yet undercooked scrambled eggs and overcooked rubber sausage. It's the first time in years that breakfast made me weaker.

I knew I was in a hellhole when the elderly man across the table from me was eating what the menu called a "salad." What he acutally had was a pile of shitty-ass iceberg lettuce with a pile of cheese and bacon bits on top located in the bullseye area of the plate. He kept making comments to his wife and what must have been her fat neice and looking over to me for confirmation. I didn't know how to respond since I couldn't hear what he was saying. I just stared down at my burnt and runny eggs.

Of course it took forever for the waitress to bring me my check. For five minutes I looked around the room, avoided the gaze of the old guy, stared at my disgusting plates, balanced my checking account in my head, thought about tonight's NASCAR All-Star race, watched the two redneck dudes decide if they should wait for the waitress or hit the breakfast bar immediatley and bolted toward the register after I got the damn thing.

When I paid I noticed I spent as much money as I would have for good breakfast at Hugos. That annoyed the piss out me and I ambled out to my 1989 Honda Civic hotrod. I stuck my key in the ignition and the car didn't start. In about two seconds I considered all those that might be willing to help me out and realized I had only one number memorized and I couldn't call her unless my life was in danger and it was 90 degrees and I justed wanted to go home and take a nap. Fuck, I fretted, what the fuck am I going to do?

I went into the Shoneys and used the bathroom. Maybe if I go back out after a few minutes it will fix itself and start. No dice. Click, click, click goes the dead battery. As I sit in my car I can feel it getting hotter. Not even considering asking other villagers for a push I go back inside and call a guy I know that owns a car repair shop and runs a towing service. He says, "Why in the hell do you call me? Try and get a push start you know how to do that, right?"

"Yeah, I say I know how to do that."

"Then try it," He says, "If that don't work then call me back."

Right, I think, if I go outside and wait long enough someone will have to give me a push. No one ever turns down a request for a push start. Think about it, have you ever denied the request for a push start? I haven't. Shit, I'll volunteer to push a car. There are two occasions in which we'll truly become a global village: when someone is on fire or if a car needs a push start due to a dead battery.

I walk out into the desert-like 90 degrees. I see two fat fifty-plus guys smoking cigarettes surrounded by five women that could be either of their wives. I walk up to them,feeling like a hobo holding his hat in his hands, and say politely (like I learned living down here), "Would you two be willing to do me a favor and give me a push start. My battery appears to be dead."

To my great relief one of them says, "Sure where you at?"

I point behind me and say, "It's that tiny and very light Honda Civic."

He says, "Just tell us what to do."

I hop in my car, they push me backwards out of the parking spot, push me forward, run for a second and then I pop my clutch and the engine fires. I wave thanks out the back window then stop to rev my engine. The vocal one comes up to my window and says, "We're taking a bus up to Virginia, you can follow and you won't have to worry about stalling."

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