Alice has been getting intensive battery training at her new job with Suma Co-op in England. Now that she is an expert, I can share some stories of people who were not : ).
I was at the gas station buying gas last summer and the lady on the other side of the pump had the hood up and the jumper cables out, which seemed a bit odd so I watched what she did. She didn’t have another battery or another car handy and she puzzled on this for a minute and then decided one cable was extra and hooked the other directly from positive to negative. So I asked if she would like some help and went over with my portable jump start gizmo and got her car going. She said thank you but I could tell she was pissed, probably thinking, Arrogant asshole, let me see you do that with just one jumper cable!
Then one day in the Ozarks, in the 90’s, my dad’s little tractor wouldn’t start and of course he knew right away it was the battery, had to be the battery, so we went to town and got a new one and I was helping him hook it up and noticed some odd things including the battery getting hot and swelling and starting to hiss, and I said, Dad, Dad, we need to unhook this thing now, it’s not the battery that is the problem. He said, No, it’s the battery, and continued to do what he was doing, getting the cables on good and tight, and then he tried to start the tractor and nothing happened (because the generator was frozen up and creating a dead short across the battery). So then he decided the new battery was no good, and went back to it and he laboriously undid the cables again, not caring at all which one he did first because a real man isn’t bothered by electricity. I said, Up to you then, I will stand over here a safe distance away. Dad said the battery must have a short in it. I thought cripes, Dad, you don’t even know what a battery is, all the cells are hooked together anyway and the only way you get a short is by hooking positive to f’ing negative, but he would have just snorted at me if I said that. So back we went to town and he told the guys at the counter that the battery has a short in it and they gave each other knowing looks and said, Yeah, that happens, and gave him another battery. Then Dad looked at me like, I told you so!
So we went back to the tractor and I said, Here, let me roll it out of the weeds so it’s easier to work on, and I pushed on the big rear tires a bit because if you can shift the machine just a little, it will often knock the generator loose. They get sticky. He hooked the new battery up and the tractor started up fine and he said, Yep! Was a short in thet other battry! and off he went. Dad blew up his first battry when he was just a kid and got a faceful of battry acid and damaged the vision in one of his eyes.
Oh! another time when I was working at a motel in Branson, I was making rounds to pick up laundry and noticed some white smoke coming up over the railing and looked down and it was coming from the electric golf cart the maintenance guys used. They weren’t around. This was the same sort of thing, the generator had frozen in the ON position but wasn’t turning and they hadn’t noticed anything when they parked it because it takes awhile to catch things on fire. So I ran around the building once and of course the maintenance guys were sitting in the break area chatting up the hotel maids, and I said, David! Your golf cart is on fire! and he froze for a few seconds and then took off like a rocket and the other man followed. Was like in the Russian movie, when the man with the golf cart blows up, the other man follows. So I laughed and walked after them to see what was going on, it wasn’t my fucking problem, and I see these two guys doing what my Dad would have done, they had the battry cmprtment open and were staring at things, and it’s not just one battry in a golf cart, it’s a whole row. Sigh, I said, and I went over to see what was going on, and the cables on the battries were literally glowing red hot and even the golf cart seat was on fire. David had a pair of boltcutters, which actually was a really good but dangerous idea! and I might not have thought of it myself, I’d have called the fire department. David looked at me and said, What do I do?! What do I do? Do I cut the cable? and I said, Yeah, cut the cable. Of course, that’s brilliant! but I didn’t tell him it was brilliant because I would never have thought of this, I would have called the fire department. Probably was at least better than letting nature take its course and watching. David reached in very cautiously and I cautiously backed away because the battry comprtment could blow at any moment, and it was like one of the scenes in the WWII movies where no one knows which wire to cut and the bomb is about to blow up. He cut the hot one, which wasn’t the safest choice, but at least it broke the short circuit. Then they let the remains of the cart burn in place and the hotel had to buy new paint jobs for the cars parked on either side. Greatest maintenance team ever : ). These were the guys who would kick in hotel doors when the card reader battries ran low, because you had to change the battries from inside the room. Then one day someone (not me, I didn’t care) pointed out there’s a spot for a key under the lock and the manager has a key for that. By that time they had ruined half the doors in the hotel. They even asked me to help them knock down a door once, because they were tired. David was special, he got hired to stay on over the winter and paint all the hotel rooms, but no one thought to check on him and the next spring the manager found out he had painted everything but the carpet, furniture and windows, just went in the room and turned on the paint sprayer. Painted the card readers, the doors, the door knobs, the walls and ceilings and all the bathroom fixtures.