Today has been a series of highs and lows. This morning I managed to pry myself out of bed right on time, got in my pickup and rolling down the road without any serious issues. The pickup was a little slow in turning over but I attributed that to the chill in the air this morning. About four miles away from the office I realized I was running way low on gas, so I stopped at the Shell station on the way to grab a few gallons of fuel before heading into the office. The gas was higher priced than I wanted to pay but that's the penalty for getting gas at a station store close to a major highway.
And that's when it all started falling apart.
Once I'd put in fifteen dollars worth of gas (which was a woeful eight gallons... oh, early 1990s, how I miss you with your ninety cent-per-gallon prices!) I jumped back in the cab, stowed my receipt away and hit the ignition. WAUB. WAUB. WAUB. Wait, that's not the right sound, there should be a happy spinning and starting engine sound when I turn the key. Thinking that there must be some sort of mistake I back off the ignition switch, give he engine a minute or two to think about what it's done and then turn the switch again. WAUB. WUGH. COUGH. CLACK. Wait, I don't remember there being a clack in the script. Let's try this one last time, I think as I punch the clutch and turn the key again. No lame sounding WAUB. No COUGH. Not even a CLACK. No. What do I get? I get a measly click! Not even an authoritative click, no, I get something like.... click. I break out the cell phone and make a quick call to my parents, hoping to enlist the help of my father in troubleshooting this issue. Unfortunately he wasn't around, so it was time to do some digging of my own. I fairly quickly ascertained that this was not an issue with my battery, the wiring or the starter relay. That leaves... corrosion on the terminals and possibly a dead starter. The little voice in the back of my head, whom I have named Monty, piped up with helpful advice. Call for a jump! advised Monty. Maybe if it's just corroded terminals the extra voltage will help overcome the resistance and get you on the way. Then you can fight it on your own terms! Well, as much as I hate to admit that a figment of my imagination is smarter than I am, Monty was making a lot of sense on this matter. If worse came to worse I could always ask the tow driver to pull me to a shop.
Sure enough, it came to that. The tow truck showed up an hour and fifteen minutes after I called them, right at 8:50... okay, so far I'm only ONE hour late to work. It's just a little dirty, it's still good, it's still good. We clip on the jumpers and start hacking away at the problem. First up, is the battery dead? No, the jump isn't helping things. Okay, is the starter relay bad? Well, the terminals sure aren't virginal in condition, but shorting between the poles proves that it's working fine. The driver gets out a giant stick and starts to wail on my starter with short, sharp blows. As odd as this may seem to some people this actually is a legitimate method of testing the starter... sometimes it develops a "dead spot" and needs to be shaken loose. After a few sharp blows the stupid thing still wouldn't engage, so we each took a turns pressing our ear to the stick while the other turned the ignition switch to "Start." Sure enough, we hear a faint buzzing of the starter solenoid trying to engage but not quite doing its job. Sure enough, the starter is probably the problem. We hook the pickup to the back of the wrecker, climb into the cab and then spend a few minutes discussing where to take the truck. I finally just admitted defeat since I don't know anything about the area and asked for a recommendation from the driver. He pulled the truck over to an out-of-the-way shop called "Tom's Truck and Auto," which looked like something of a hole-in-the-wall. I'm glad we went there, in the end. Tom was fast, he was fairly priced, and very entertaining to talk with. He started working on my truck right away, and within an hour and a half he had the starter changed out, a new battery installed, all my terminals cleaned and sprayed with anti corrosive.
All told today's gallivanting with the pickup cost me $331. I'm not sure how to feel about it. It could have been worse -- I could have gone to the dealer -- it's still money I didn't want to spend, and could have saved by doing the work myself. But it's hard to do automotive work without the right tools, without a lift, in the middle of a gas station's fueling area.
Maybe I should count my blessings.
Don't judge yourself too harsh my love, someday you might find your soul in danger