Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wrenched Plans

On the coldest day of this past ferocious winter, I had to make a run to the store for necessary blizzard supplies (Doritos, toilet paper, wine, and beer). When I tried to start the car, it hesitated and thought about maybe just staying home before finally sneezing and coughing to life. Unfortunately, in the store parking lot, the battery couldn't even muster a hiccup. Luckily, it was a short walk home.

We went back and jump-started the car, brought it home, and I went to the auto parts store to purchase a new battery. The clerk asked if I was going to bring in the old battery the same day so he wouldn't have to charge the return fee. “Of course,” I said. I looked at his name tag. "See you in a few minutes, Ben.” I'd changed batteries before. Child's play.

Back at home, I pulled out my trusty pliers and popped the hood of the dead car. I tried to manuever the pliers around the nut holding the negative cable in place. No luck.

“Gotta have the right tool for the job,” I remembered, words of wisdom from a certain chainsaw-toting wise guru. I went to the garage and rounded up all the wrenches I could find. None of them fit. “No need to get angry yet,” I thought. “We could use a good set of wrenches.” I went to the hardware store and bought a set of standard wrenches. I then successfully used the 8 millimeter wrench to remove the cables from the battery.

“Almost done,” I thought, eyeing the cable-free battery. I pulled on the battery but it didn't budge. I realized there must be something underneath holding it in place. As I peered down with the flashlight, the 8 millimeter wrench slipped from my hand into the area behind the battery.

I got on my hands and knees and looked under the car where the wrench must have fallen. Nothing. I placed my hands on the side of the car and shook vigorously hoping to dislodge the wrench. Nothing. By this time, it was getting dark and much, much colder. “Focus on the task,” I told myself. I shook the memory of my wrench from my head. I looked at the battery again and finally saw the screw at the bottom holding it in place. Then I realized I had nothing to reach it with.

Not up for another trip to the hardware store and dismissing the disappointment Ben must be feeling by now, I decided to call it a day.

 Later that night I told my tale of mechanical woes to Eduardo, St. Pauli Girl's son. Within mere minutes, a friend of his with an extra-long screwdriver arrived and ten minutes after that the battery had been replaced. After thanking them I asked, “Did you happen to find a wrench in there?” Negatory.

The next day, before going to visit Ben, I took the car on a shakedown cruise to see if maybe the wrench would fall out, hoping it wouldn't land on a gear or piston and destroy the car. “I bet I could at least return the new battery if that happened,” I thought. I took the car out onto a country road, then I jolted the car over some pretty rough bumps at a dangerously high speed but never heard a clink or a clatter.

I wheeled into the auto parts parking lot, newly-loosened shocks and all, then waited. Finally, I saw Ben exit the back door to take out the trash. I dashed in, left the old battery on the deserted counter, and left.

I now had a working car but was afraid to drive it with the wrench on the loose somewhere under the hood. I decided to get an oil change. When they finished, the clerk handed me the bill.

“Say, you guys didn't happen to leave a wrench in there somewhere?” I asked nonchalantly.

“Nope. We account for all tools before closing the hood. Standard operating procedure.”

“Yeah, it would be pretty stupid to leave a wrench in there.”

“Yeah, really stupid,” he said.

After a few weeks, I forgot about the wrench. Then one day, St. Pauli Girl and I went out for a ride. She drove through an intersection with a deep swale. The car with all its loose shocks and ancient struts bounced violently, and we almost hit out heads on the ceiling.

“Sorry,” she said. “I didn't realize it was that deep. Or that our shocks were that bad.”

I suddenly thought of the lost wrench. “Woo hoo! If that didn't jar the wrench free, nothing ever will!"


  1. Doritos, toilet paper, wine, and beer. Sure you aren't a native Texan? :)

    1. I think beef jerky would have clinched native Texan status, but I'll keep trying. Thanks for the comment!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hahahahaha! Great story...but I'm still sitting here waiting!!! Where's that bloody wrench? Has it ever reappeared? Do I have to wrench the punch line out of you or do I have to punch you to get the ending of the story out of you?

    1. No idea what happened to the wrench. Either it fell out or it's still stuck in there somewhere. Glad this post was so pun friendly! Thanks for the comment.