Gratitude for a Purple Duck

I woke up this morning pretty excited to get back to the cigar lounge with my laptop. Do some writing, hang out and other stuff I haven’t talked about here yet because while I have no trouble with the grief I’d get, the patronizing approval makes me fucking nauseous.

Knowing that my day was going to be spent there (here) I kinda dicked around for a couple hours. Got the day’s administrivia dealt with early, since there wasn’t much of it.

10:45 came around and I packed up the bag and tossed it in the truck, realizing the driver’s side door was open a bit. Whatever.


Not whatever.

Apparently I’d closed the seat belt in the door and the cab light stayed on…for days, and the battery was dead.

Well that’s all well and good, Just charge it, right?

Yeah I’m a new homeowner and…didn’t have a charger. I have cables, sure. But… no charger.

“Welp, I’m not going anywhere for the next couple days.” I slung my bag back around my shoulder and went back to the computer to order a car battery charger. Walmart has 2day shipping and that works well enough for me.

I spent a few minutes screwing around with which one was ACTUALLY from Walmart and which ones were 3rd party resellers that were gonna drop ship from the mountains of China.

I ordered it, and a couple other things and my mind rolled a bit.

Back downstairs I figured “Well, it’s a gorgeous day out. I can drag out the welder, the forge, or the smelter. Yeah, time to melt some cans.” I’ve been saving aluminum cans and have amassed…QUITE a bunch. It’s long past time I cleaned up by turning them in to ingots. I opened the garage door and started tracking everything I’d need.

Wait…Dollar General couldn’t be more than two miles away could it? It was in the mid 60s after all. The first bright sunny day after a week of weather commonly defined as “miserable.”

Screw it. I grabbed my jacket, a lighter, and some of those little Tatuaje cigars and went outside.

Shit garage door. I grabbed the remote from the truck and hit the button…nothing.


Well, sometimes I’ve gotta be real close. So I stalked up to the thing, brandishing the ancient remote, repeatedly hitting the button. The base unit would light up, indicating it was getting a signal. But the thing wouldn’t actuate at all.


Being some kind of lunatic, I just stood in my driveway and cackled like some kind of lunatic.

Okay, so it’s time to play THIS game.

Obstructions? Nope.

Okay fine. Have it your way. I went in the garage, pulled the release, dragged the door down, and set out down my driveway.

Birds EVERYwhere. The sun felt nice and…admittedly strange. I wondered how long it’d been since I’d been outside doing something other than going to and from a vehicle. Jessica’s birthday party last summer? Not okay.

The barking of dogs marked my passage along the dead-end street in a 200-300 yard radius around me.

It was a little shocking how much my legs hurt as I hit the main road and turned towards Dollar General. But so what. Physical pain isn’t really that big a deal until it’s interfering with concentrating on something else.

Besides, it was just too lovely out for me to care.

The change in context to what I could only call The Real World hit me about half way down my road. I thought of how I’d spent my morning and why. I’d been taking up space, taking up time sitting in front of my computer, where I’ve been sitting for about 40 years. I recall the sun hitting my face and realizing that nothing short of some kind of weird catastrophe could have gotten me to get out of my chair.

Yeah, without a doubt that the dead battery was probably the best thing to happen to me in a few days at the very least. Even if all it did was get me out the door for a nice walk. It’s something that bears thinking on. There was far more to it than that and I find myself unable to draw the line between the idea and the words as easily as I’d assumed I would.

Heading in to Dollar General I said “y’all wouldn’t happen to have a car battery charger, wouldja?”


I…don’t know how else to say that.

“You know, a charger for your car battery in case, oh I don’t know, your car won’t start and you have to walk a mile and a half to Dollar General to get a charger. That kind.”

She laughed and the older woman, now brought into attention said “Nope. Nothing like that. We’ve got all the fluids. But nothing like that.”

blink blink

Now…I could have called. I thought about it. But calling ahead in this case is something like going to google immediately to answer a question, it’s a clamoring to avoid the unknown. But…there’s really nothing wrong with the unknown. There are other ways to learn things. If I’d called I’d have just stayed home.

Besides…it was a really nice walk.

“There’s the NAPA store just down the way though.”

“Yeah, there’s the NAPA store just down the way though.” I chuckled.

I ran through some images in my head of the road and found one with a NAPA store, but really had NO sense of how far it was. What’s “just down the way” to people who are thinking in terms of a drive? Well? What did it matter?

I set off that way. Turns out it was a little less than half a mile further. They had a little one, a big one, and one on a dolly. I grabbed the big one, presuming it was sufficiently skookum for the task.

My legs were getting to me a bit on the way home. But again, whatever.

Just past Dollar General something on the road caught my eye right in front of me.

It looked for all the world like…a rubber duck.

I stopped, processed the image a bit, and walked a couple steps back.

Yep. Purple rubber duck with black spots.

I was really pretty surprised I’d missed it on the way out. I must’ve stepped right over the thing.

I smiled, bent down, picked it up, turned it over a couple times, put it in my pocket, and continued home.

The return trip is always shorter than the trip out. I’ve found that to be true in just about every case. My holiday drives to New York, just about any walk or drive just about anywhere. I’m not all that sure I understand it. Sure, going from known to the unknown always seems longer. But even on an established route it seems shorter. It’s just one of those things.

I was on my road when a big white truck came my way and slowed down, a 60ish woman driving.

“Are you Stephen?”
“I…don’t think so, no.” I smiled.
“Oh, I’m sorry. You look just like my neighbor.”
“All good.”

Then she pulled off the road, turned around and went back the way she came, as if she had driven out to ask me that. Very strange.

I got home and finally fiddled around with the thing and got it plugged in to the truck.

Glad I got the ‘big’ one since it had a trickle, charge, and a start mode.

A couple aborted attempts and I thought “wouldn’t it be a bitch if it wasn’t the battery?” and laughed a bit.

I let it sit, went upstairs, washed off my little duck, dicked around on twitter a bit before coming back down and turning the key.

Started right up.

I did a little happy dance, unplugged everything and tossed it in the truck, then just stared at it a few minutes to be sure it wasn’t going to stall out or something awesome like that, then drove down here.

Now hopefully the half hour or so drive down the hill was enough to charge the battery. But if not I’ve got cables, the charger, and all kinds of goofy nonsense in the truck.

So what I’d, for a brief moment, thought of as a week-destroying inconvenience became a really nice walk on a gorgeous day. I spent $90 on something I’d be hard pressed to consider less than a critical piece of gear, and got a cool little purple duck with black spots.