temporarily carless

Monday morning. I leave the house ready to get in the car and drive to work. Except the car won’t unlock. Pressing the little button on the key illicits no reaction from the smart.

Pressing the button multiple times changes nothing. The car is unresponsive to my requests. I study it for the first time in a new light. It’s like a picture of a car there in front of me. Static like a rock, somehow unreal in it’s uselessness. From being a vehicle, a thing I jump in to get to where I am going, it’s changed into a thing to be observed and evaluated. My point of view has reversed with respect to my little car.

It feels like panic is developing inside my head. First thought – the key must be problem. The key’s battery has run out. The solution is the replacement currently residing with the car’s manual in the glove compartment. OK, well check the battery in case it’s dirty or loose, but no joy there. The button perhaps is getting a bit overused out at this point, but I won’t give up trying.

I give up. Call a taxi and share my travels with a characteristically opinionated driver.

I contact my ex (from whom I bought the car) for ideas. Perhaps she has a spare key (shouldn’t there be an extra key? And why haven’t I got it? Funny why I’ve never thought about this before. Extreme situations force us to have extreme thoughts). She says there should be an alternative way to unlock the car using the key itself in the rear door. I’m adamant that I’ve never seen anything of the sort. I know that her smart has a keyhole, but not mine.

I’m in town for meetings in the afternoon and use the in-between period to scour as many camera and jewelry shops as I can reach in the time available. None of them stock that particular battery.

At the end of the day. To save money I walk into town from work and pick up a taxi from there. In the morning it cost £8. In the evening it cost £6. I realise I needn’t have bothered walking. As soon as we drive up to the house I can see a keyhole in the door of the car. The taxi driver parks his cab to come and see if he can help.

Opening the back door allows me to clamber inside and unlock the doors. I retrieve the spare battery. Replacing the battery. Makes no difference. And then I notice that the side-lights of the car are on. Were on until the car’s battery drained.

The last time I drove the car was on Friday night (to the supermarket).

This realization opens new avenues of choices. I could call my ex again to jump-start me. Or I could join the AA and get them to send a mechanic out. Which I do. I had been meaning to join them, but had not seen the need until I was in distress. They took my membership fee and charged me a ‘one-off’ £50 for this call out. At 9.00pm he operator promised that the mechanic would be with me at 9.47pm. The mechanic arrives at 9.47pm.

The mechanic jump started the car. To charge the battery up, I drive to Newmarket and back with a spectacular sunset playing in the distance.

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About escdotdot

Researching contemporary art, sound, and experimental music in China. Living in Hong Kong. With a PhD from Hong Kong Baptist University, Academy of Visual Arts.

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