I needed to unload a ton, literally, of wood pellets from the back of my truck. I backed Blue Truck up to the barn, checked my distance to the off-load pallet, and turned the truck off. I knew it was going to take a few minutes to unload so I left the radio on. I never do that; I have this fear of draining my battery all for the luxury of a little music while I work. Since the battery is less than six months old, I threw caution to the wind and cranked up the volume.
I spent the next half hour unloading a ton of wood pellets. When the job was done, I slammed my tailgate shut and hopped up into the cab to park the truck in front of my trailer. When I turned the key, all the lights on the dashboard lit up, but the engine didn't turn over. Repeat, same answer. Hmm ... my first thought was that my battery was dead, but really? The radio was only on for 30 minutes. My neighbor across the street has been known to blast his bass-assisted stereo for far longer than that. What the hell?
I tried to pull the key out of the ignition thinking that maybe a "do over" would clear the problem. The key was stuck. How does the key get stuck? I turned the key again, but the engine remained quiet. I tried pulling the key out again, but nothing. I moved past WTH? into the land of WTfingH?
I can solve a lot of problems, but vehicle glitches are not my thing. I immediately zipped over to the neighbor's house to ask for her husband's help. He wasn't there, but her farrier was. I just wanted a confirmation on jumper cable hook up. Farrier gave me the run down which, as it turns out, is the same process I use for hooking up my horse trailer's batteries, so I zipped back to my own barn brimming with confidence.
I actually own a roadside assistance kit that I know how to operate. I've seen car batteries jump started before, and I've actually participated in resuscitating a dead battery, but I've never actually been THE ONE IN CHARGE. No matter. I shimmied my car up to the truck's open hood, popped the car's hood (no small feat actually), and gave both batteries the one-eyed ogle. Yep. They both had one.
I hooked the clamps to each "hot" terminal and then moved on to the negative terminals. So far so good. No sparks flew, and the connections were solid. I started up the live battery first, and then hopped into Blue Truck and gave the key a turn.
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
This is dressage related, barely, but the connection exists. I blogged about wanting a new truck a few months ago. I haul my horses alone 100% of the time, and a breakdown is always on my mind. I am not a mechanic so I do have a AAA card, but really, what help is that when you've got your precious boy stuck in the back of a trailer on Interstate 5, California's busiest highway? So as I watched my dashboard light up but my engine remain quiet, I was ever so grateful that this first "breakdown" was happening in the barnyard.
Not knowing what else to try, I gave Hubby a ring, but got no answer. A very dear friend, and her Fix All Things Mechanical Husband live just a few minutes away so I gave them a ring. Fortunately, he answered and volunteered his services. All my worries disappeared. If TG can't fix something, it can't be fixed!
His first suggestion was to crank on my steering wheel to unlock the steering column. That has actually happened before so I cranked away on the steering wheel hoping to shift the front tires a sufficient amount to allow the key to turn. I turned the key fully expecting the engine to roar to life, but instead, I was met again with a big, fat nothing.
TG took the driver's seat and tried a bit of this and that. Are your headlights on? Yes, came my reply. I could hear his various grunts and hmms. I love to see a man work. At last, after more than ten minutes of checking under the hood and fiddling with my dashboard, his ruling was made known: call a mobile locksmith, one of the tumblers in the ignition must be broken.
I was okay with that decision. It's certainly better to have a break down in your own yard than out on the highway, but TG wasn't finished. It just didn't sit well with him that he couldn't fix my problem. All of a sudden he gave a disgusted snort and drew my key out of the ignition. HOLY HELL!
I wish I could write this in a teeny tiny font, but my website's template won't allow for it. I had shut my engine off before putting Blue Truck in park. D'oh!
TG grinned at me sheepishly. Even he felt embarrassed at taking so long to diagnose my problem. He and his wife and I had a huge laugh at my foolishness (oh, hahaha ... real funny - except, it really was!). Actually I didn't care. As soon as he slipped my truck's transmission into park, Blue Truck fired up with its customary perkiness. I couldn't have been happier.
Moral of the story? Take good care of your vehicles and have really great friends!