I was alone with the baby. We were wet, tired, and hungry. And the car wouldn’t start. We had just hiked around the Line Creek Nature Area in Peachtree City. A snot yellow stream. Two white ducks. Deer. Various conglomerations of moss. Puddles and pinecones. After two hours, Ellie’s hands were cold, even under her gloves. I clicked her in the car seat. Cranked the keys clockwise. Nothing. Just the click click click of the alternator. I tried again. Click click click.
Two other cars were in the parking lot. Kate was ten miles away at the Peachtree City Athletic Complex, expecting me to pick her up in a few hours. The car battery was dead. I think I left the lights on. On the car ride to the park, Ellie fell asleep. And you never disturb a sleeping baby. So I killed the engine and sat in the front seat reading A Million Little Pieces. Except I think I forgot to turn the lights off.
My cell phone was dead. Died a half hour earlier, mid-way through my Facebook Live audio broadcast entitled “Why Men Rape.” I came up with four variables: lack of loving mother figure, lack of self-control in father figure, a close community of women, and alcohol/drug usage. I cover this much ground before the battery dies. Check it out if you’re curious.
Kate said some people during her coaching clinic froze up when it was their turn to coach. Couldn’t get the words out. If the players misunderstood something, some clinic-going coaches didn’t know how to adjust. Couldn’t think on their feet. And roll out Plan B. They just stared. Kate said one woman started crying.
At an existential level, I would love to cry cry cry. And maybe yesterday afternoon was my opportunity. Alone in the rain. Dead car battery. Dead cell phone battery. Baby on the verge of tears. Instead of crying, I formulated a plan. I took the stroller from the trunk, clipped EllieRoo inside, but a half a bottle of milk in the cup holder, and set out for the main road. There had to be a Walmart nearby. I knew there was from my earlier research. In the stroller, I could run in there in less than twenty minutes. Get a car charging kit. Charge the car. Get in the car. Return the car charging kit to Walmart. Or keep it, if it’s cheap enough. And get back to the hotel. Nap baby. Feed baby. Feed myself. And be ready to pick up Kate at the soccer fields at 5pm.
The stroller didn’t make it out of the gravel parking lot. A woman in a white Jeep pulls in and gets out. And I walk over and say excuse me to you happen to have jumper cables. She says I think so. And then she pulls them out of her trunk. She’s holding them like she’s never held jumper cables before. I ask her awesome, do you know how to use them? I ask because I’m not sure. If I’ve done it before, someone was telling me what to do. Siri or someone live. And since my phone was dead, I had no out. It never occurred to me that I could use her phone and just Google it. She said she didn’t know how to use the jumper cables for sure and I said neither did I and then she said it’s okay she has a friend coming soon and he knows how to use them. While we were waiting for the friend, I put the car in neutral and pushed, so that she could pull her nose up to my nose. The car rolled easily and then picked up speed and I had to jump in the seat at the last minute and my foot was wet and the pedal slipped but I hit the brake and all was well. While we were waiting I said thank you so much for stopping. And she said oh I’ve been there before. And then a man came out of the woods and looked at us with the two cars nose to nose just standing there, me with the baby, and the nice lady with the jumper cables and he said y’all need help? And I replied: do you know how to jump a car and he said yes and he was hobbled over. And he looked inside the lady’s hood and couldn’t figure out where the battery was so he said move your car and I’ll bring my truck over and he brought his truck over and he opened the hood and I saw a NAVY decal and then he said okay so you put positive and then negative on the battery of the car that’s running. And I said okay. And then he said you put positive on the car that’s not running and negative somewhere on the frame, to ground it. And I said okay. And then we waited a few minutes. And then he said try it. And then me and Ellie went into the driver seat and then engine started up. And I said thank you so much and he said you should go to O’Reilly or AutoZone and get the battery checked because they do it for free. And I said okay. And even thought EllieRoo was crying the whole time we still made it to AutoZone where another old man helped me lift the hood up because I was holding the baby and sometimes you need the help of strangers.
Yeah that’s the lesson. Sometimes the kindness of strangers saves you from freezing in the rain with a tired and hungry little baby.
>>> HEY YALL. Real talk is that on the road this past weekend I really realized the importance of having a safety net of savings. Kate and I don’t right now. But that’s our goal. So that when the car dies, it’s fine. We can remedy it. Without needing the cheapass purchase and return policy. Or, we needed to book another night at the Days Inn because check out time was 11am and it was supposed to rain all day 100% they said, and I needed a warm and dry place beside the inside of the car to hang out with the baby all day. We booked again through Priceline because it was twenty dollars cheaper than at the front desk, but only after I researched every hotel, hostel, and AirBnb within thirty miles. I was considering going into the woods and building a tee-pee with sticks and wrapping a tarp around it. So yeah your support is appreciated on this level too. If you’re into supporting the Young Writer and his Troupe, check out patreon.com/altdaddiary. Monthly contribution amounts start at $1/month. Alrighty. Peace and power to the people. Especially the nice ones who help a stranded dad and baby out.