Yesterday, starting my car to head our for food shopping on a glorious late September afternoon (the equinox has arrived, reminding me that it's time to update the template for this blog), I was disappointed to observe that my car failed to start. Instead of turning over, the engine just made a sort of clicking sound but wouldn't engage. Dead battery.
I approached a group of neighbors down the street to request a favor and one of them volunteered to come over and jump start my car for me, no small feat considering the steep hill on my driveway and the limited space available for maneuvering. But we did get it jump started and, in an attempt to recharge the battery, I decided to go drive the greater distance over to the mall first instead of just to the local supermarket.
After I parked at the mall, out of an abundance of caution, I tried restarting my car just to make sure the battery had in fact recharged. Clicking sound. No start. No friendly neighbors down the street to assist me either, and worse, I had parked facing away from the lane, making it difficult to get another battery close enough to mine to jump me, unless one of the cars next to me pulled out. After a while, though, I did manage to flag down a parking lot security officer, who as it turned out had an extended set of cables with him for jump-starting customers from the other end of their cars (I doubt I was the first person there to have had that problem) and we got my car started again.
Apparently, driving the car wasn't recharging the battery, so I assumed that the problem must be the alternator, and I didn't want to turn the engine off any place where I wouldn't be able to get a jump start to get going again. The end of my driveway on top of the hill on a Monday morning didn't seem like the best place and time to get jumped, so instead of going home, I went to the office, parked the car, and took the company truck home (if you're wondering, I'm allowed to do things like that, but I sent an explanatory email to management anyway letting them know where the truck was).
I had a business meeting in the morning, so I couldn't take care of the problem until after lunch. When I got back from the meeting (in the company truck), I got a colleague to jump start my car for me and drove it over to the dealer, prepared to leave it overnight as they replaced the alternator.
As it turns out, it was just a dead battery, so dead that there was nothing left to be recharged, despite the alternator's best attempts to revive it. Why the battery died, I don't know - perhaps I had left a light on overnight, perhaps a door or the trunk was left partially open and the warning light had burned all evening. But the good news is that I was out of there in about an hour, and the whole ordeal cost me less than $200. I was expecting to have to pay a lot more.
So for the previous 18 or so hours, I had this dark cloud of anxiety hanging over my head, worried that I was facing major and expensive repair work, and it turned out to be no big thing, just a routine battery replacement. The worry was for nothing, but it reminded me once again that typically, things aren't as bad as our minds make them out to be. Sure, bad things happen, but they're rarely as bad as we imagine they are or will be.
Our worst enemy is sometimes our own imaginations.