“You may be a redneck if you are currently attending sixth grade on the GI Bill,” is a line that always pops into my head when I see someone doing something that doesn’t seem very bright.
Me, for instance.
After my car would not start the other night, I found myself standing out in the nearly-empty parking lot after work on a frigid (-26 degrees) evening, looking under the hood at a cheap and now dead battery stamped September 2009, wondering why I hadn’t noticed it earlier, as I have been driving this particular car since late summer.
Stunned by its newness all these weeks, blinded by it’s lovely red coat, I neglected something important, like checking the condition of a battery that might have to see me through a Minnesota winter. I waited for one of the coldest nights of the year to discover it wouldn’t even see me home.
Not too bright. I admit it.
I figure I’ve proven many times over that I am just about bright enough to be hazardous to my own well-being. Let’s just say foresightedness is not my strong suit.
Chivalry is not dead, as it happens, but by the time people showed up to help, I had already called a tow truck, who got it started right away and advised me to let it run for at least half an hour before shutting it off. Which I did. 47 minutes, to be precise.
And so imagine my surprise this morning when I was happily planning to pick up my sister in Gordon and drive to an auction in rural Wisconsin, when I turned the key and heard that dreadful click click click.
The second tow truck driver was equally friendly as the first, and cheerful, given the chill in the air and the fact that I hadn’t backed into the garage, which a brighter person may have done, considering the events of the night before. (See paragraph five.)
“College battery,” he said. “We call them ‘May Starts.’”
Another battery jump and a trip to a service station for a new battery, and I was on my way to meet my sister, who by now had driven herself to the auction and was already bidding on stuff. And so I arrived, a few hours later than I’d planned, a bit poorer, but by now better equipped for cold weather. Lesson learned. The hard way.
Giving credit where credit is due, because I so adore people who do what they say they’ll do: My thanks to Thompson’s Express on 27th Avenue West (unfailingly cheerful service every time I go there) and K/J Auto Service at the top of Woodland Avenue. Good fellas. (But not in that “I’m gonna smash your kneecaps” kind of way.)
But oh, the auction! I almost forgot.
My sister Kim and her hubby are avid auction attendees. They sometimes allow me to tag along. It’s hard for me to keep up with the action, since I’m always afraid I’ll bid against myself (see paragraph 5) and so it’s that rare instance when I get to tell people my sister Kim will do my bidding.
Farm and rural auctions are not the hoity-toity places where scratching your nose will cost you $1,000. They are social events, casual and fun, great for people watching, and (for me) filled with high humor. If you bid on something by mistake, or you bid and then change your mind, you can just say say, and the sale moves on without you, no harm done.
There are a lot of men at auctions. A lot.
Also, they usually sell things like chocolate cake, hot dogs and Coke.
How can this not be a fun day?
My sister is a serious bidder, undaunted by my nattering about dead batteries, chipped fingernails and friendly men, and she ended up with lots of very cool stuff today. While she was hauling treasures out to her car, I bought two turn-of-the-century toasters and an old coffee pot for $2. Not by bidding, but because the auctioneer stared at me until I said “Sure!” which is how we bid for ourselves in Duluth. “Sure! I’ll take ‘em!”
They’re pretty. And I do love old kitchen appliances. But that’s another story for another day.
Here are people you would have recognized at the auction: Santa Claus (who has trimmed down since December) and Wild Bill Hickok. You might think they have similar attributes, but I tell you the are two separate men, and they were both there. I had my camera with me, but I didn’t think it would be polite to take photos of them. Wild Bill looked at me once, and I think he was saying “If you won’t go to Deadwood, Deadwood will come to you.”
Sadly, I did not see Calamity Jane, though I did see a calamity between a husband and wife, which sort of surprised me in its decibel level. But hey: been there.
Well, that is my story of car batteries and farm auctions. I spent $2 at the auction, and well over $200 just getting there.
Not too shabby.
And not too bright.