My New Best Friend

Meet Herbert.

What happened was, nothing happened. Nothing has really happened for two fucking years. It hasn’t been safe to go to the gym (which is why I now have an adjustable set of weights and a rack arranged next to the piano). The only other place I ever drove was the grocery store, and except for a brief interregnum which I now refer to as the Second Before Times, when we thought this mess was turning around, we’ve been having everything delivered. And since the Engineer got the world’s Most Adorable Electric Car, a red Mini with a dashboard like the Millennium Falcon, he has had no interest in driving Lua-Vanessa Aspasia Himmelblau, the 2011 Fit I keep thinking I just bought yesterday.

Right about the time the shit hit the fan in 2020, Lua’s battery died. I had to reflect that it was nine years old, which is really rather impressive. I called a tow truck and rode along with her to the dealer to have a new one dropped in, and that was my last close contact with anyone outside the household until we had vaccines. There was not much driving of her, but I lent her to the Engineer for road trips until the Falcon came along, when his itch to drive the little red car was so palpable I couldn’t insist he trade out now and then. Since then, outside of an odd trip to the recycling center or the UPS drop box, I’ve just run her in the driveway once a week, if I remember.

I forgot for a couple weeks. Cue the solenoid click.

I owned a battery jump box with cables, which assessed the problem, sighed, and died. It really felt like that thing was new too.

I cannot tell you how much I cringe at this point in history at the idea of interacting with anyone face to face, now that we’re apparently pretending there’s no pandemic any more and everyone is cavorting around without masks and acting as if I’m some sort of obsessive-compulsive weirdo for asking them to wear one. The idea of dealing with even a tow truck driver had me nearly in tears. So I decided to take a chance on Amazon, and a day later Herbert was in my hands. I have to call him something because he has pretty much rescued my week if not my entire month.

Herbert charges via a USB port. He has a lithium battery that can jump a six-liter engine, roughly four times the size of Lua’s. He has USB output that will take care of your phones in an outage. He supposedly has a feature that lets you override his safeties to charge a battery that’s dropped below two volts, but ther are dire warnings about how this could cause him to shoot sparks and the manual is printed in something like Caslon Microscope or Arial Nanoparticle, and if he couldn’t get Lua going in normal mode, I was resigned to the tow truck.

The Engineer hooked up the cables and turned on the power button. Herbert lit up. I turned the ignition. Lua roared.

She’s out there idling now — it’s too fucking cold for a recycling run and I have no place else to go — and I am thinking of getting Herbert his own little special box and possibly one of those dishes you see in front of statuettes of a Bodhisattva, where small devotions of orange slices and so on are left. I love Herbert.

4 thoughts on “My New Best Friend

  1. Since I’m blessed with good health, and my mother at 94 is disinterested in spending the rest of her days hidden away, I only wear masks per Uber rules when delivering to a customer. Yes, that’s my post-corporate gig now, since I devastated my retirement accounts for reasons I now understand well enough they don’t bother me. Much.

    My old Jeep, uninsured and driveway-bound because of a failed transmission, gets fired up now and then and driven (illegally) round the block. I’ve found the battery stays alive a lot longer if I disconnect it after I’ve put it back. My records indicate I last did that Oct 29 so it seems it’ll get put to a good test shortly.

    I’m glad you have the Boost thing. A friend or three have one and are glad they do. I have a traditional slow charger that plugs into the wall. Old school, you know. Until I looked I couldn’t remember if I still had a timing light. I don’t.

    • Sadly, the whole thing went south the next time I tried to start the car a few days later. She would fire up with Herbert attached, but not otherwise. So since I needed her inspected and some attention to the tires anyway, I had the dealership send out the valet drivers, which they will do hereabouts for free if you happen to have an in-date coupon. It looks like the two year old battery was either defective or really just went flat from not being driven often enough, but at any rate, it was still in warranty so that was lucky too.

      I found I had two plug-in chargers and neither would hold enough charge to get even a sputter out of the car. They are going in the electronics recycling pickup.

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