Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Double Trouble

There are sounds that simply are not music to the ear. To those of us who consider ourselves traditionalists, the sounds of Elvis and any late 50s, early 60s rock 'n roll is sweet; any rapper assaulting a microphone is like fingernails on a chalk board.

A sincere "Welcome home" from loved ones when you've been away for a while brings a warm, fuzzy feeling and even a tear to the eye. The sound of your dad's voice calmly saying, "Welcome back," is not soothing to the teenager who thought he had slipped unnoticed from the house after midnight for one more prowl. The accompanying feeling is anything but warm and fuzzy and there could be tears.

Perhaps one of the most underappreciated sounds is that of silence...the opportunity for internal reflection and communion with one's self. Silence is indeed golden...unless it is associated with something mechanical, like a vehicle.
Imagine: A brief trip during late afternoon to a friendly, award-winning country store located in the capital of the Golden Triangle. The mission is complete, allegedly, when bags are placed in the back seat. Your humble observer sits down, straps in, inserts key into ignition and turns key to the right. Silence. What didn't he hear? Turn again. Silence.

Wait a minute.YHO had this experience earlier in the day in the workplace parking lot 35 miles from home without a dime in his pocket or a jumper cable to his name. Fortunately, a co-worker/friend's power booster came to the rescue. Obviously a bad battery, thought the man to whom the words "do-it-yourself car repair" are as meaningless as "balanced budget" and "concern for the people" are to a congressional trough feeder.

A quick trip to our friendly battery guy resulted in a brand spanking new battery at no charge (no pun) to replace the almost brand new battery. The silence that followed the attempt at lift-off occurred a mere six hours later. What my wondering ears did not hear triggered a response to non-mechanical brain. "Oops," my self said to myself.

"Doggone it, Hefty," YHO grumbled. "What's the deal?" An aside: The woman who promised to love, honor and put up with my addictions has a habit of attaching names to inanimate objects. It seemed appropriate to name the little white SUV after the trash bag since she carries around more of my garbage than a Waste Management hauler can handle.

Thank goodness for friends who realize an open hood in a parking lot means trouble. Luckily, Jeff and Wayne (we may or may not have changed the names to protect the innocent) arrived in the nick of time. That's the period between dirty words and the urge to tear up something. Both were eager to offer assistance, knowing well this observer's reputation as a mechanical dunce.

To make this episode shorter than the two days it became, you know you're in the South, and may even be a Redneck, when two sets of jumper cables (one made from welding leads), a community forum on batteries and alternators, a brand new power booster and two sets of battery cable tightening tools fail to accomplish the mission.

You also know you're in the small town South when a stone-dead vehicle can sit unoccupied in a business parking lot overnight without being ticketed, towed or stripped.

We did have a measure of success, however. After cracking knuckles on cables, greasing up hands and shirt sleeves and running a jumper cable attached pickup truck for about 30 minutes, the silence was broken.

"Try it now," one friend suggested. YHO climbed behind the wheel and turned the key. "Ka-lik, ka-lik, whrrrr, ka-lik," Hefty said.

"Well, at least she made some noise," YHO noticed. "Think that means anything positive?"

"Yep," said another friend who had been attracted to the goings-on. "It means I'm positive you ain't going nowhere anytime soon."
We didn't. The happy ending took only four days. YHO learned something about his diagnostic talents, too. Was it a battery? No. Alternator? Nope. Electrical system short? Of course not. Car doctor replaced the starter. "Vroom," said Hefty.

The woman who puts up with my addictions but is increasingly annoyed by my bad habits wondered what I had learned from the episode.

"Let's see. A brand new battery to replace a battery which was just fine. A brand spanking new portable generator to kick start the brand new battery, which was not the problem. Two sets of wrenches to tighten battery cables, which were not tightenable. You drive my vehicle for two days while I drive the 1983 farm truck to work. Does all this tell you anything?" she wanted to know.

"All's well that ends well?" I replied.


Pat Culverhouse is a journalist and political columnist who lives in Minden. You may contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .






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