Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Recharging my batteries

I received an email from my brother early yesterday morning asking if I would collect his daughter from the bus terminal at about 5:30pm and take her to cello practice, then collect her from cello practice and take her to her mom who is taking a class in Warwick.

I quickly look at my schedule, it is eminently doable so I respond in the affirmative but urge him to remind me later in the day, lest I forget.

My day goes on and all is well. No stress, all my meetings are running like a well oiled machine. I arrange to meet my husband at the car so we can go home together. I get another email from my brother indicating that both nieces will be traveling into town with a friend of his and they will call me to arrange a rendezvous point.

I get the call - let's meet outside of the adult library. I arrive, the children and cello are transfered to my car and we are off.

Hello, girls. Great to see you.
Hello Auntie, we are hungry.
Let's go to the Marketplace and see if they still have the food out. I say, thinking quickly.

Girls, make sure you have more vegetables than anything else in your dish.
That plea seemed to fall on deaf ears.

We get home and eat and then jump in the car to take the oldest to cello lessons.

Return home with the younger niece, finish eating and putter around for half an hour.

Time to go and collect niece from cello.

Jump in the car and off we go.

Get to the cello drop off point, turn off the car and chat with younger niece while we wait.

Older niece arrives, puts cello back into car, jumps into the back seat with her sister and off we go. Off we go. Off we go.

Actually, this is where we don't go. I turn the key. Nothing. What? That can't be right. Turn the key again, this time less than nothing. How can this be? I just drove the stupid car here.

Auntie, what's wrong?
Nothing, sweetie, we just have to give the car a few minutes to um ... rest before we ... um ... start.

Turn the key again. Nothing. There is no doubt the battery is dead. As I contemplate screaming, crying and gnashing my teeth, I hear a plaintive voice from the back of the car.

Auntie, we're stuck aren't we?

My nieces, ever perceptive, have figured out that disaster is looming and we won't make it back to the house any time soon.

Yes, sweetie. The car won't start. I think it is the battery.

I reach for my phone and I hear one saying to the other.

We are stranded, let's call Daddy. Auntie, we should call Daddy.
I'll call him in a minute.

Mark, we are stranded, I'm not sure what to do. I think its the battery.
Walk to the gas station and see if they have jumper cables.
Okay. Great idea.

I didn't have the heart to tell him it is cold and dark and I really don't feel like walking.

The nieces are in the back now talking about distress signals.

Auntie this is a disaster. Where are the flares?
What flares, sweetie?
The flares you are supposed to have when you get into distress.
I think that is for when you are on a boat and I don't have any flares. We need jumper cables which I don't have either.
Daddy would have had flares.

I look at their faces. They are busily breathing on the window writing SOS in the building condensation in the hope that some passing car will see their distress signal and come to our assistance. No such luck.

By this time I was calling everyone in my immediate family in the hope that someone would be in our vicinity and come to our rescue. To no avail.

Auntie, this is a disaster.
No, sweetie, this is an adventure. We are having a wonderful adventure together.

As I glance in the rare view mirror I see them exchange skeptical looks and go back to whispering and plotting how to get the phone from me so they can call for reinforcements.

Mark calls back with the numbers of every shop in the immediate area saying, call and see if they have jumper cables. I called. No one sells jumper cables these days.

After about an hour of phone calls and discussions with my nieces about why we can't call 911, I decided to take our fate into my own hands and headed out to look for help.

Since we were on the Serpentine Road side of BHS we headed towards the sound of civilization. BAA. Before then, I spot a taxi and beckon the reluctant cabbie over and ask him if he has jumper cables.

You can't jump these cars so I don't carry them with me.

I don't even know what that means - but I say thank you and move on.

We get into the BAA gym and the first people I approach I share my plight with them and the lady says, "Oh, I have jumper cables." I look at her dumb struck. Our luck has changed. She agrees to drive us to my car and give us a boost. She is accompanied by a friend who will provide assistance. Yippee!

We are on our way ... the batteries are connected and my car starts instantaneously. What a beautiful sound. As I wipe away the tears of joy from my eyes, I listen to my nieces cheering and all is suddenly brighter in my world.

We thank these strangers profusely and pile into the car. I start making phone calls letting my immediate family know that we have been saved and they can now call off the search and rescue party.

I turn to my nieces and we discuss the lessons learned from our adventure.

Their take aways are:
Keep a flash light nearby.
Have your own cell phone.
Always carry extra flares in the car.

My take aways are:
Buy jumper cables and keep them within arm's reach.
Make sure all batteries are fully charged.
Always have a 10 and 12 year old with you to help change your perception of a situation.

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