The thing about cars is there’s so much that can go wrong. And when it does it’s costly to fix it. Yet, even when working from home, we need them. We have two, both quite old in car years. One is approaching twenty. We bought it new—the first time we’d ever been able to achieve such a feat. This was one of the new Beetles and it has had never-ending electronic issues. Warning lights come on that seem to be a malfunction of the warning lights—if you ever wanted an existential situation that’s one right there. How do you know if there’s something wrong with your engine or is it just something wrong with the warning light? A worrisome one came on just as winter was settling in and we didn’t need to drive it much before inspection time and we let it sit a little too long.
The battery, naturally, died. We have an old, seldom used battery jump-starter, which, in the cold of the garage, also died. We’ve been trying to find time on the weekend when both my wife and I are free (rare) so that I can drive it a ways to try to recharge the battery, but with someone home who can rescue me if I get stuck. So it was we came to buy a new jump-starter. These new ones are the size of a cell phone on steroids—much smaller than the old kind. Ours came from China, I’m guessing, and the instructions are sexist. They imply that women can use this because it’s easy. Part of the description reads “It can be used more than 30 times, giving you peace of mind, no matter where you are, if the battery runs out, you can start it without looking for women who are not smart at night in an empty parking lot, such as a college campus or forget you.” I don’t know about you, but this sounds like the writer had a past he’s trying to deal with.
I was indeed once left stranded because of a dead car battery. It’s a story I’m saving for my autobiography, if I ever write one, but let me assure you all the people responsible for that abandonment were men. Men with a car that wouldn’t start while I sat in the middle of nowhere in the dark. (This was before cell phones.) I didn’t want to buy a sexist device. Both men and women have batteries die and I’m always a little scared to jump-start a car. At least now we can get the Beetle rolling again and drive toward a future where women are rightfully seen as equal to men. And I hope that instruction writer has found some help, perhaps with therapy.