Spontaneous Combustion : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Spontaneous Combustion

spontaneous_combustionby G.L. Pease

Last week, I had to replace the battery in my beloved aging Volkswagen. (Please indulge me. I promise I’ll get to the tobacco stuff in a bit.) I went out to the curb, pushed the button on my key fob, and instead of the reassuring thunk of the door lock and enthusiastic light show of the corner lights, my button pushing was met with a whim- per and a dull flicker. I know batteries don’t last forever, but this annoyed me. I’d replaced the battery only a couple of years ago—three at most. Grumbling, I borrowed a car, motored off to the auto parts store where I’d bought the last one, and stalked up to the counter.

“Hi. What can I do for you?”

“It’s battery time. Would you by any chance have a record of the last one I bought for this car?”

The helpful fellow asked for my phone number and tapped it onto his screen. Not a trace. My furrowed brows betrayed my puzzlement.

“But the records only go back a few years. How long ago do you think you
bought it?”

These last words did little to soothe a growing thought that maybe I’d bought it somewhere else. But where? I always come here.

“Just a few years, I think. Maybe I used my mobile number. Can you check that?”

Tap, tap, tap.

“Sorry. There’s no record of a battery purchase in the system under that number either. Is it for the 2000 VW?”

He tapped a couple more times and almost instantly had the part number for the replacement, gave me the price for a couple options, wandered to the back of
the store and returned lugging my new battery. After a few more moments of tapping on his screen, he presented me with a hefty bill. Still clinging to my own version of temporal reality, I muttered that batteries seem to have gotten dramatically more expensive in such a short time.

“When you take the old one out,” he gently suggested, obviously feeling sorry for me in my apparent confusion, “there will be a sticker on the side,” then pointed, “like this one, that shows the date it was manufactured. We only keep them around for a few months, so that’ll give you a good idea of how long ago you bought it.”

Unconvinced, I schlepped my shiny new battery home, grabbed the necessary tools and set to work replacing the old one. A couple bruised knuckles and muttered expletives later, with every- thing buttoned up and tested, I turned my attention to wiping the grime off the side of the coffin of the deceased so I could read the sticker. August 2006. Nearly 10 years ago. Apparently, the battery in my brain’s internal time- keeper is also in need of some attention.

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Category: Spontaneous combustion, Spring 2016

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