Returning from an adjunct teaching gig at a university 20 minutes’ drive north of Tainan one day, I stopped near home to get my favorite Taiwan food, a lunch-box. I parked in a “not exactly legal” place, but since I was standing in line only meters away, I could move the car if needed. Besides, it was only for a few minutes since I planned to take lunch home and eat it there.
Bagged-up box lunch in hand, I jumped back behind the wheel and turned the key but nothing happened. The battery had given up its ghost when I started up after class. But God is good. There was a legal parking spot only a few feet in front of me. It was an easy push, then a short walk home, where I enjoyed my lunch and took a nap before springing into action for the afternoon.
The mechanic who serviced the car and kept it on the road far beyond its usable life was a short walk away. I went there and reported the car’s condition and location. Then I walked to the car and within a few minutes a technician arrived on a motor scooter. He inspected the situation and said, “wait here.” He was soon back with a new battery and it was installed. He returned to the shop and I was right behind him. The battery was paid for and I was back in business.
A couple weeks back, the battery in our “Michigan Car” began to indicate the end of its own life. We had attended an even that took about 90 minutes, during which I had, unwisely, left the lights on. A jumpstart from friends got us out of that jam, and a few hours hooked to the battery charger in our own garage seemed to solve things. Three days later, though, in the middle of a longer set of errands, starting again failed. Another jump start and a longer stint on the charger seemed to take care of that. But, of course, this was not a permanent fix. On a Saturday morning, it wouldn’t crank. The charger was deployed once again, this time for almost 48 hours. No dice.
Both of our previous jump starts had been provided by friends near to where the car failed to perform. But this time it was at home. I started running through the mental list of people who could help me start the thing so that I could get it to a parts store when I recalled, “I pay $50 per year for roadside service.” A call, a little bit of information, and within ten minutes the guy was here. I went to the shop and had a battery within 30 more. Now things run fine.
The night before the car’s final failure, my wife, Char, had dreamed of going someplace and discovering that the car wouldn’t start upon her trying to come home. The next morning, the failure to start happened even before she LEFT. That’s not exactly prophetic dreaming, but is close enough to be considered Delphic. I’m hoping she can dream about the stock market or the horse races next time.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.