Need A Jump

“I’m sorry to bother you.”

His hand moves to his forehead as he sighs.

“I need a jump. I’ve got the cables. Would you mind?”

This was a few weeks ago at my house, with my neighbor, where there were three cars in the parking lot but only mine would start.

The story went that my neighbor’s car keys were missing. He thought his wife must have them, but she was at work and he couldn’t get through to her on the phone. He had a plan B. He’d been storing his friend’s car, who was traveling, and he pulled the car cover off and climbed in, only to find that the battery in plan B was dead.

I had the time and was happy to help get my neighbor back on the road. Besides, it had only been the week before when I’d come out to my own car to find the battery dead. (The embarrassing result of one mother’s scattered state, combined with two nine-year old boys, the rolling up of electric windows, and a key left engaged in the ignition).

My personal AAA rescue came in the form of a mother in a white mini van with four kids in tow, and her portable jump-start kit. She explained that she had to bring her kids because it was now summer vacation, and with a less-than-whispered aside, stated that “they’re driving me crazy.” Eight eyes peered at me from inside the van, though most went quickly back down to their hand-held electronic devices.

Used to the actual tow-truck and a guy in work boots answering my triple-A call, this mom in flip-flops with “Hilo” tattooed near her breast, was the most unusual car call I’d experienced. But she got me started and was gone within ten minutes.

The jump-start for my neighbor took about the same time and soon I was lowering my hood and he was off down the road.

So yesterday, while working at the home of one of my clients, one of his house guests knocks on the door where I’m sorting paperwork.

“I’m wondering if you could help me out.”

He proceeds to explain that he has lost the keys to the car he’s been borrowing. He must have dropped them somewhere in the bamboo leaves, but so far all searches have turned up empty. So he’s been using another friend’s car in the meantime. But that car’s parking lights don’t shut off, so its battery is now dead and he would greatly appreciate it if I could give him a jump. He’s got the cables.

Again, I have the time, and take a pause. Pull my car up to his and in about ten minutes, his car is running and I’m closing my hood.

It’s only later, around sunset, as the Bohemian and I are together eating green papaya salad that these string of battery-jump-start incidences weave through my mind.

“What do you think about the fact that within a three-week span, two people came to me with stories about how they lost the keys to their car, and when they went to use an alternative, in both instances, the second car’s battery was dead?”

The Bohemian raises his eyebrows and nods his head. “Hmmmm.” (The man has perfected the ambiguous nuance of the ‘hmmm’, and in this case it held the tone of something like, “yes, that is curious”).

“…and then they came to me asking for a jump.”

Again, the Bohemian nods, with a look of “interesting…”

“I’m not trying to put a big meaning on it. But it does seem a bit odd to me that I would experience such similar stories – and in such a short span of time. Not to mention that I, myself, was in need of a jump not long ago.”

The Bohemian agreed that, yes, a theme of some kind was present.

And the poet in me searches for symbols.

Batteries as a power source.
No energy, renewed energy.
In need of rescue.
Reciprocating the rescue favor (twice).
Keys left engaged too long.
Keys simply missing.
Plan B.
Plan B needing more energy.

The layers of meaning could be endless.

Or, plainly seen.

Car batteries lose their juice. It’s good to have jumper cables and a friend (or at least a AAA membership).

photo courtesy of Leif Maxfield
photo courtesy of Leif Maxfield

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