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Baby, you can jump my car (10/02/2011)
By Sarah Squires
I have anxieties about things that can kill you, or me. That sounds all too logical, but the fact is that I have to work to control fears about super duper random and unlikely things that could kill me: Iím a careful driver, and think a lot about what each passing car might do wrong (to a fault). Walking down the stairs always presents the initial possibility of how bad it would be if I fell from the first step. I got sweaty watching the new version of Journey to the Center of the Earth on a 14-inch screen from across the room under the covers on my bed because of the heights.

Illogical or not, I get scared every time I have to jump my car. It doesnít matter if I just went through this ordeal with some friendly, reassuring, mechanically-minded fearless person who wrote down instructions about black and red clamps, who wrote these instructions on my wrist in a way that I can still sort of read them. Doesnít matter if you teach me rhymes about which to connect first, because if I remember them, I will doubt them.

Enter awesome solution.

Imagine a jumper cable device where the connection is in the middle of the cords. You connect each battery to the right cable ó negative to negative, positive to positive ó not worrying about whether youíre doing it in the right sequence, or touching something that will make the car blow up. And then, connect the insulated wires using an assuring plug-in mid cord between the two cars to join the two, electrically-scary ends. Like jumper cables cut in half with a safety plug in the middle.

This is why nerds win.

Because it doesnít matter if you were captain of the geek squad or the head cheerleader. It doesnít matter who you are, your car only needs a jump at the worst possible moment: the one where itís 6 a.m. and youíre barefoot and you have a leashless puppy you were taking home from an overnight shift in the country and there are no phones around (Zack Morris cell phone times) so you have to crouch-walk holding puppyís collar while stepping on glass for a mile (totally happened). Or your car just weirdly dies as you stop to pee outside on some lonely North Dakota stretch because there is nothing, including a bathroom, anywhere. And itís 20 below. These things especially happen if you havenít slept, and most often when you are late for something really important. Also, when there are no other cars around, or when you are in a scary neighborhood by yourself at night wearing high heels with lots of cash and valuables in your purse. In a blizzard.

Which is mostly the reason that jumping a car always stinks, and I am always afraid I am going to do something wrong and kill someone (me), and why I need the safety, dummy version of the jumper cables.

This is all meant as a big thank you to the genius behind the cables, my future bro-in-law (go team!) Jim Jarvis. (I am taking credit for this union, even though I didnít introduce them -- I knew him first!) It takes a special kind of super smart engineer guy to notice us scaredy pants and make such a device, rather than what most of you smarties usually do -- which is continually try to teach us or write these things down. Iím telling you, Iím still going to doubt myself and have visions of electrocution. I need these cables.

So as Iíve gotten to know Jim over the years, first with the wind turbine situation, then with the fam, Iíve learned heís the kind of engineer who actually makes things. Interesting things, components to renewable energy systems. And all kinds of other things, including said special cables, which I am ever so grateful for. Onward, Sarah, to the roads beyond! Iíll beat you yet, alternator (actually, I have no idea what is wrong with the car)!

P.S. If you want to know how to get some of these jumper cables for like, your grandma or someone equally as weenie as me, give Sarah (me) a call at the Winona Post (507-452-1262) and Iíll trade you Jimís number for a story idea. It can be kooky. I like kooky. 


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