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Sunday, January 7, 2018

3rd and Inches

Picture it: January 4th, 2018 in North Georgia. The East Coast is getting plummeted by what meteorologists have labeled a "bomb cyclone," a mammoth storm bringing frigid temperatures and arctic blast weather. Fortunately in this part of Georgia we didn't get hit with any snow, but the well below freezing temperatures made it feel like Queen Elsa had gotten more than a little bit angry with us.

My parents hoped to avoid the arctic chill by taking Senia Mae to Universal Studios, but even in Orlando it was a chilly forty- six degrees. Our car has a built in DVD player so we let my parents drive our SUV to Florida and I decided I could tool around in our old truck for a couple of days.

Under normal conditions we take the truck out at least once a week to keep it running well, but over Christmas we had to make extra room in the driveway for guests and parked the truck in the woods up by the road. It was already pitch dark when we moved the truck so we pulled it into the space facing two trees and a five foot high woodpile instead of backing it in like we usually do. Yesterday when I tried to crank the engine, not a single sound came from under the hood. The arctic blast had frozen the life out of our old truck battery.

Because of the way the truck had been maneuvered into the tight slip in the woods, there was no way to pull another car anywhere close to the engine for a jump start. My only option was plugging up the battery charger, which was a good choice except that it required electricity. The nearest outlet was about the length of a football field away from the hood of the truck.

"I can do this," I said to myself as I headed to the storage shed. The two remaining extension cords were six-foot candy cane striped cords I had gotten in last year's clearance sale at Walmart. They were the only ones currently not in use either for Christmas decorations or to keep something from freezing in the frigid cold.

I couldn't unplug the heater keeping the well pump from icing over or the cord for the heat lamp to the hen house, but we could do without the light up Santa on the porch. Even though that drop cord was probably fifty feet, sixty-two feet of cord was still not going to be enough. Remembering the last time I used the battery charger was on the dock last summer, I ran down to the boat and found the charger tucked away in a compartment with a twenty-five foot extension cord. Bonus points... I was making headway.

My hands burned in the bitter cold as I lugged the two extension cords and battery charger up the thirty stairs dropping them by the electrical outlet in the driveway. I eye-balled the length of the four cords I had piled up then looked up the hill to the truck in the distance realizing I was still going to come up short.

Years ago, during a bad breakup, my crazy ex had said, "I came into this relationship with ten extension cords..." as we were dividing up the house stuff. My initial reaction was "who the heck counts extension cords?" but I sure wish I had fought harder for them now. Heading back down to the basement, I rummaged through some boxes in the utility closet and found one more fifteen foot cord.
The two candy cane cords made it from the outlet half way across the width of the driveway. I then attached the fifteen foot orange cord and tossed it across the rest of the driveway. Instead of climbing up the steep embankment, I carried the other two cords and the charger along the edge of the drive and started at the engine of the truck.

The charger itself had about two feet of cord, so I clamped the red and black posts and laid the charger on the edge of the truck. Tossing the first drop cord over the five-foot high wood pile, I carefully navigated through the briars in what seemed like the shortest path to the electric outlet. The second cord seemed like it was going to be plenty long enough as I tossed it down the embankment towards the open end of the orange cord in the driveway. All I had to do was walk back down the hill and put the ends together.

When I got back to the driveway, what looked like plenty of cord was probably the same illusion that baffles football players after third down when the chains come out and measure third and inches. I could hold both cords, one in the left hand and one in the right, it was so close. But even with a good tug on the line, there just wasn't enough leeway to connect them together.

I ran back up to the truck to see how I could stretch a few more inches out of the already taught line. Grabbing a knee high camping table, I placed it halfway between the hood of the truck and the woodpile then stretched the cable of the charger enough so it reached the table. Hopefully this would be enough. When I pulled the two cords together I lacked about a half of an inch. A swift tug on the cord running up the hill allowed me enough lag to plug the cords together, leaving a spot in the middle slightly suspended in the air. Finally the crazy debacle was over.

A few hours later I checked on the battery. I turned the key to find lights turning on and dinging on the dashboard, but the engine wouldn't turn over. It went into the passive theft-deterrent mode as a safety precaution. The last time the truck battery lost power it took me over an hour to figure out how to disengage the high tech security feature of the truck. I had written the sequence down and kept it in the glove box.

All I had to do was hit unlock on the key less entry fob, place the key in the ignition, turn it slightly, press and hold the valet button under the steering column for at least five seconds and then the security system should disengage. Simple enough. I fumble through the cup holder with the spare change to find the keys. When I hit the unlock button on the fob nothing happened. I hit it a second, third, then fourth time with no results.

"Nooooooooooo," I whined as I laid my head on the steering wheel, disgruntled and disgusted. Of course, the battery of the key fob was dead too. Thanks Elsa. I may as well buy a couple more extension cords while I'm picking up new batteries for the key fob!
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