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.
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.