How NOT To Jump A Car - 5/13/11
Back from Peru/Bolivia! Pictures/stories to follow this week...

This morning, my girlfriendís car wouldnít start. Being the macho, manly man that I am, I grabbed the jumper cables I always keep in the trunk of my car and promptly hooked up one end to my reliable Honda Civic battery.

"No problem," I thought. "Iíll impress her with my handy dude skills and have her off to work in five minutes flat.

Her battery was another story, however Ė the cables were so corroded that it was impossible to tell which side was positive and which negative. But I was undeterred. Having successfully jumped several cars before without issue, I figured it probably didnít matter that much if I got it backwards. If it didn't work, I'd just switch it around. I had a 50% chance of getting it right, and even if I didnít...

"No problem," I thought. "Whatís the worst that could happen?Ē

Apparently, THIS is the worst that can happen.


OK, thatís not my actual car (my Civicís about 1% nicer than this), but you get the idea. We didn't get a chance to snap a picture, as we were too busy dashing around in circles freaking the f*ck out.

It seems when you hook up jumper cables backwards, the line immediately becomes molten hot and melts the coating on your cables and any adjacent car parts. Within about five seconds, clouds of smoke were billowing from both cars and the bubbling line of burning rubber between them.

GF yelled for me to turn my car off. I did, but it didn't matter. GF screamed for me to release the cables. I screamed back that I didn't want to die. I yelled for her to find me something rubber, as I pointlessly kicked at the toasting cable with the rubber sole of my shoe. GF brought back a cloth welcome mat, of no use whatsoever. I yelled for her to find me something wood, then, as the 7am neighbors came outside to see what all the smoke and shouting was about. Finally GF finds me an ornamental wooden boat anchor which I use to beat frantically at both car batteries until one of them finally gives up its grip on the burning cables.

The smoke slowly clears, and I proceed to try to pry the remains of the torched cables from both engines with the boat anchor as two fire trucks roll up, sirens, blaring.

"Did you guys call 911?" a burly firefighter yells out the window.

"No," I said. "But somebody probably called about us."

The firefighter jumps out, takes one look at the crumpled cable, now on the ground, and waves the second firetruck back to base. "Red goes to red," he says, climbing back into his truck. "I think you're OK though."

Here's what was left, by the way, of my jumper cables.


Miraculously, there was no damage to either car. Except where the burning hot cable melted its way into the plastic bumpers and headlights of our cars, of course.


In the end, GF's car still didn't start, and AAA needed to be called anyway. But at least I'm down one set of jumper cables.

Manliness 1, Paul 0.



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