Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Because Once Upon a Time, I Thought I Knew All There Was to Know About Cars

Attention General Motors Corporation:

I am writing to you because I think there is a vital missing piece of equipment on all of your newer model cars - mainly those produced since I started having children of my own, 12 years ago.

What could this be? You may be wondering. Well, let me tell you. It is simple. So obviously, blatantly, silly simple that I can't believe I am the one to have experienced my very own "Flash of Genius" moment to have thought of it. Me. Mom of 3 and driver of an '03 Envoy XL - which is a near perfect vehicle for us in all ways but one...

You see, the vehicle you manufacture and market to families with kids need (and I can't state the importance of the word "NEED" more strongly), they NEED to come with an extra battery, just for operating the kids various entertainment devices like portable DVD players, iPods and Gameboys. This battery needs to be separate from the operational battery that supplies juice to the cars engine and other vital components, like the windshield wipers and heater (I do live in Washington state, where the weather is known to be soggy and cold, even in August). It could be connected somehow, in an engineering way that I just don't have the smarts to understand, to the main battery - but it would NOT, and I repeat NOT, draw power or take any power away whatsoever from the main battery.

See? Genius! Can't believe you didn't think of it yourselves, can you?

Testing - you don't even need to complete testing because I, my friends, have already done it for you. I have road tested and mom approved nearly 6 years of operational use of a vehicle without this feature and last night, I learned why it is needed.

When we dropped my oldest child off at football practice, the raindrops were small, dainty things that barely counted as actual rain. Within twenty minutes however, all that changed and I knew that our time spent on the sidelines in our camping chairs was going to come to an end. To the car we raced! My other 2 children grabbed their pens and paper and the portable DVD player and entertained themselves while I read a magazine. We had our defrost on, the wipers set on intermittent (so we could watch our football player run up and down the hill for drills) and we'd occasionally open and close the windows, for a little fresh air (I don't need to tell you what sitting in a muggy car with 2 kids and a bag of chips smells like). Everything was fine, hunky dory, until I tried to start the car at the end of practice.

Yeah, that was so not going to happen.

I tried a few times, not wanting to put stress on the starter (somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I thought this was an important thing not to do). I grabbed my owner's manual and looked for trouble shooting ideas (um, you might also want to revise your owner's manuals to include trouble shooting ideas as well). I pumped the gas pedal and tried a few more times. Nothing. I then noticed that my wipers were not working, and if we tried to open and close the windows it took a really long time to get that done. The clock had lost track of time and my outside temperature gauge read 90 degrees. Obviously, we had a problem...and all signs pointed to a dead battery.

"Will we have to sleep in the car Mommy?" Asked my 5 year old.

"Will we be stuck here all night?" Asked my 10 year old.

"Can we call a tow truck?" Asked my 12 year old.

"No," I answered, "We're going to call Grandpa."

So here I am, a full grown 36 year old mother of 3, calling my Dad on a rainy evening to ask him to help me with my car (good thing we only live about 2 miles from my parents, and the football field is in between our houses).

I fretted and worried and fretted some more.

Finally (about 5 minutes later) my Dad shows up, jumper cables in hand. Know what? I had completely forgotten how to jump a battery! This, is what happens when you do not use knowledge you have previously learned. It is not like riding a bike, it does not just come back (this knowledge) as if you just used it yesterday. Some things, like jumping a dead battery, you have to relearn.

Trying not to look like a complete idiot in front of my Dad, I told him that I just didn't understand why this would happen, that we'd been running a portable DVD player in the car for years (years!) without this ever happening. He just smiled and did the "Dad" thing, which is to remind me how a car battery works and the things that can draw power from it (thank you, Dad, for always putting things in a way that I can understand and for not making me feel like a 2 year old while helping me).

And we were on our way.

But do you see, oh great and wonderful executives of giant car company, why a secondary battery - one designated for these types of situations alone - would be helpful for parents everywhere who sometimes get stuck in their cars at their kid's various activities with other children to entertain and/or simply keep warm? I am sure, no I am completely confident, that I am not the first mom to have had this experience and if you ignore my request for a better battery situation, I will not be the last.

I'm not asking to put my name on this new battery option, nor am I asking for any credit. Whatever compensation you think would be appropriate is fine with me and I promise never to take you to court and drag your name through the mud.

I just think that it is a pretty darn good idea.

Very Cordially Yours,
The Mom Who Almost Had to Walk Home in the Rain (in flip flops no less because she is smart like that also)


Lisa said...

Ohhhh. That IS a brilliant idea. They should totally hire you! Glad the vehicle got started but what a bummer!

flutter said...

ohhhh, suck!

Kendra said...

I haven't had that situation yet--my kids are still at the ages of mostly non-battery-operated toys--but I have found myself sitting in the rain listening to the radio or intermittently heating the car, only to realize that it drained the battery. A backup battery is a brilliant idea!

I also have no idea how to jump start a car. An old boyfriend once taught me, but then he left and I never had cause to use that knowledge. I should probably tape very explicit instructions under the hood of the car or something, just in case!