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On the way to Wisconsin from Dallas, I had a minor automotive mishap. I was on Highway 151 just across the Mississippi River and Wisconsin border when the battery light came on. I’d considered changing the battery in Arizona when I left, but thought it could take one more trip. I was wrong . . .

Things started going crazy with the sensors and instruments a few miles later. I managed to take the first exit and ended up in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Dodgeville, trying to diagnose the problem. The parking lot seemed like a decent place to be with a potentially disabled vehicle. I was open carrying in the cross draw position with the old Fobus holster for vehicular travel.

I got out and checked out the fluids. They were good. I decided to try starting the vehicle. There was not enough juice to turn it over, but the solenoid chattered. An O’Reilly Auto Parts store was only 300 yards away.

Dakota at O'Rielly Helpful, courteous member of the gun culture

I strolled over and explained the situation, suggesting that it might be a bad battery. An employee, Dakota, handed me a wrench for the battery terminals. I was travelling light, without tools, because I would be dropping off the vehicle and flying back to Yuma. Nobody said a thing about the GLOCK on my hip.

I went back and had loosened the terminals, when I realized that I did not have a wrench to loosen the security bolt holding the battery to the car. I looked around. A custom muscle car from the 1970’s was approaching down the parking lot lane. It was going four or five miles per hour and the driver’s window was open. It had a good sized airscoop on the hood. As the driver went by, I asked “Have you got a wrench?” He pulled into a parking space 50 feet past me.

He walked over, and I explained the situation and said that I thought I needed a half inch wrench. He walked back to the car and brought over a stubby open end. It was 1/2 on one end, 9/16 on the other. The half inch end fit perfectly. In 30 seconds I was lifting out the battery, returning the wrench, and walking a Wal-Mart cart with battery to the O’Reilly store.

At O’Reilly, one of the employee’s checked the battery. It had a dead cell. I asked how much for a replacement. He asked the year, I said I thought it was 2007. He said they had a couple of different batteries, and another employee quipped “you better not disagree with him, he has a gun.”

Dakota asked what caliber the GLOCK was, and said he had just bought his first pistol, two months before. It tuned out that he started shooting pistols at eight years old, and had been on his high school rifle team.

We talked guns for a few minutes. They joked about keeping the Wal-Mart cart, but I said I needed it to take the battery back. When I left, they supplied me with a 3/8 inch ratchet, a 12 inch extension, and deep socket for the security bolt.

Just as I finished installing the battery, the owner of the muscle car strolled back out, and asked how it was going. He smiled as the van started right up, and I told him all the idiot lights were out. We wished each other good luck.

I returned the cart, and drove the van back to O’Reilly. I returned the tools and the manager came out and put on the analyser. The voltage regulator on the alternator was not working. They had alternators for sale, but no way to install them. The manager said the batteries were designed to run a car for two hours without being charged.

I handed out business cards, thanked them for the help, and decided to try to make Jim and Rose’ place, about 75 miles away. It was where I intended to spend the night. Jim has developed a small chain of hardware stores. He is a busy guy. But Jim and Rose are two of my dearest friends. I would trust them with my life.

At Madison, about 30 miles away, I hit the South Beltway at rush hour. Two hours keep on ticking whether you are going 10 miles an hour or 70 miles an hour. It took me 20 minutes to cover four miles.

The radio clock started when I reconnected the battery. I knew turning on the lights would shorten the battery life. The shadows were getting pretty long when I pulled into Jim and Rose’ driveway. When I parked the van, the clock read 2:07.

I do not like to depend on the kindness of strangers, but in small town Wisconsin, it is a pretty reliable phenomena. The gun culture is an integral part of that culture, and open carrying only seemed to help with my little auto mishap.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. It will only get better if more people open carry. Is it “tactical”? Yes and no. If we want to win our gun rights back then coming out of the closet is the only way. Open carry in broad daylight in safe places.
    When you want the element of surprise on a Friday night, then conceal it. Why can’t we both be right?

    • Both philosophies ARE right! There is a time and place for both, just like there’s a time and place for carrying a long gun and extra magazines.

    • When you are spending the day driving a car, CC just will not work, you cannot reach the gun if you need it. The rig shown is vastly superior to any manner of CC I’ve ever seen, it should NEVER be against the law to step out of your car to pump gas, change a tire or whatever. When your day is spent in an office, the manner of carry could be argued.

    • This is a BLOG. Dean writes for the blog. A blog is not all breaking news stuff. If you need more breaking news please watch CNN

      • Yeah but there’s blogs and there’s blogs. The 16 year old girl we use as a babysitter has one but it’s not something I want to read…

    • Because many people who contemplate carrying, especially openly, are concerned about just this kind of situations. In a different state, Walmart, different shops, hailing down strangers driving by etc.

      Good to see Americans in general, aren’t a fraction as hysteric as the media make them out to be.

    • Because concealed carry was legalized 5 years ago and open carrying was almost guaranteed you a vist by the 5-0 with a bunch of great questions along the lines of “why do you think you need to carry a firearm”

    • Because Dean is open carry obsessed and perpetually in search of any excuse or reason, no matter how lame or insignificant, to spin and generate a story about his obsession while pretending it’s an effective deterrent and/or expression of free speech.

    • Better than the customer service gripe-fest from the other entry.
      Besides, positivity gun experience.

      • It’s not a car, it’s a minivan and it’s a dodge. Those thing are notorious for leaving you on the side of the road. It’s almost like we should have placed wagers on where, not if, that soccer mom mobile would crap out.

        • Most vehicles I see post-turtled are minivans. It’s amusingly predictable.

  2. When the light comes on while you’re driving, it’s the alternator (which may have killed the battery, or the battery might just be discharged so badly that the weakest cell is down to zero).

    • After some recent charging system problems, I have come to appreciate the alternator light. It lights when there is more current being drawn from the battery than the alternator can provide. I gets your attention a lot better than a gauge and provides the essential information – if it stays on your battery is going to go flat.

      On my Maxima the clever Nissan engineers decided that the Brake warning light should come on with the Alternator light. WTF? This is because, unlike every other car, they were too cheap to add the extra stuff to light the Brake light when the ignition is turned on without just slaving it to the Alternator lamp. Top of the line model. Nissan makes a heck of a good V6 but they need to put a better car around it.

  3. Small town and rural folk are still more Andy Taylor than kapo bloomberg. If I had to pick a spot to have car trouble it wouldn’t be in any big city.

    • Yep.
      And it’s not just the mindset of helping neighbor. In rural areas, people have the tools and the knowledge to attend to minor mechanical issues. Part of the self-reliant culture.

      In big cities, car dies and they call a tow truck.

      • A good friend of mine recently went with his wife to visit her family in a town just outside of boston, don’t recall the name. while he was there, the bearings on the fan motor for their outside a/c condenser unit went out. His in laws were ready to call a hvac technician. He told them to hold on. He found a hardware store, got a new motor, (80 bucks) and Installed it. His in laws were amazed. They told him he could make a good living up there.
        I was somewhat amazed at the story. I guess there are parts of this country where people don’t know to do things. It’s a part of life in rural areas. I think it a mindset. I will do everything I can to fix problems myself before paying to have it done. Maybe it’s because I’m a cheap ass, but I think it’s more likely that I take a sense of pride and accomplishment in doing things myself. Pride in a job well done. Something that is significantly lacking in my “millenial” generation

        • I’m to old, infirm and rich now, but I did that kinda stuff for 40+ years. I have owned cars which *never* saw the inside of a shop. The main reason I did that was every time I paid the big bucks for a “professional” to fix something, I still had to fix it after he screwed it up worse. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair. IMHO, hired help has improved dramatically in the last 20 years or so.

  4. I know this has nothing to do with the content of the story, and I regret being *that guy*, but “phenomena” is plural. The word that belongs there is “phenomenon”.

    Nice story, though. I was braced for the freakout that never came.

    Also: It’s hella-brave to trust that a battery is going to run your car for two hours without help from the alternator. This guy is big-dickin’ it all over the place.

    • I agree. That was quite a leap of faith, and some would say a foolish one.

      I once installed an alternator in the parking lot of a NAPA store. Five minute job. Of course that was a pickup truck and they’re easier to work on.

      • In ’72, on a cross country trip, the alternator on my ’71 car died, I picked it up from a gauge (no light) but didn’t know how long it had been out when I noticed it. Made it to a dealer, they had an alternator (wrong one, but better than nothing) but couldn’t schedule an install until 2 days later. Scared to touch my shiny new car, the parts guy had to convince me I could install it myself. I didn’t have the $35 to buy it, and they didn’t take checks. I had to go to the bank across the street and talk the nice manager into cashing my check, then it took me 20 minutes from a standing start to install it and verify it worked. And a lifetime of working on my own car (and everything else) had begun.

        • Oh yeah. The days when nobody had plastic, there were no atm’s and new cars came with a 12 month 12,000 mile warranty. No cell phones. A road trip was a real adventure then.

  5. Be careful, last time a checked there is no “open carry” in a vehicle in Wisconsin, it is always legally concealed one you are in the vehicle. They do have fairly good repository for CCLs though.

  6. You were lucky it broke down in Dodgeville and not in Madison. You would have received plenty of unwanted LE attention in Madison. They couldn’t do anything to you but they would have harrassed you as much as they could get away with. Anywhere outside Milwaukee, Madison, or other urban areas its rather gun friendly.
    Wisconsin is Constitutional Carry for open carry so you wouldn’t have needed a permit. Yes, you can open carry in a vehicle in Wisconsin without a permit too. You only need a permit for concealed carry.

    • Be real careful about the vehicle opinion. I checked the laws a few years ago and it was a big no-no. I have a ccl now, so I have not kept up on it.

  7. Most of WI is gun very friendly but you have to be careful around Madison and the university. A lot of gun grabbing libtards in that area.

  8. Ah yes… Madison, Wisconsin. City of the perpetually offended and more “safe spaces” per idiot just north of that bastion of gun safety, Chicago.

  9. I won’t sneer at Dean for open carrying in a rural or small town in a gun friendly state like Wisconsin. I do it when I’m in the woods or on state hiking trails. The state is filled with some many dangerous four legged predators. When I get deep into the countryside I am usually toting a rifle and my small game permit on hikes. However, when you open carry in this kind of environment it shows poor fashion sense to carry a modern plastic fantastic, This is when it is time to strap on a GI 45 or some big ass revolver.


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