Thursday, March 29, 2007

Late Night Meeting

A few of the clients I work with are start-ups. One in particular is made up of a team that all have day jobs, so the regular conference calls and meetings all have to take place in the evenings or during lunches.

Last night was our big meeting- several hours spent hammering out the details of the first product to be launched. The meeting was set to start at 6PM and expected to run for 3 or 4 hours. We wrapped up about 10PM, and I headed out to the car. I couldn’t figure out where I had parked- the building we were meeting in was massive and byzantine, and I feared I would spend the next 20 minutes walking the circumference of the complex looking for my car. Fortunately Keith, one of the team members, offered to drive me around the building to find my car.

I turned the key- and nothing happened. Not a click, not a light, no sign of life whatsoever. I pulled out my cell phone and called Keith asking if he had jumper cables. He did, and turned around to help me.

I carefully set up the cables and tried to get it started. Nothing. No sign there was even a drop of electricity running through the system. Not good. I played with the cables again to make sure there was good contact, and climbed back in. Nothing. Well, that’s not exactly right- there was something. A not good something. Smoke.

A wave of smoke and a foul smell started to waft through the air illuminated by Keith’s headlights. I climbed out of the car to see something really not good. A single flame flowing out of the negative terminal of Keith’s battery. Then smoke from my battery. I think I said “yikes” and Keith said “wow.”

I approached Keith’s car and had one of those flashes- I could read the headline on the Drudge Report: “Two Men Permanently Blinded By Two Simultaneously Exploding Car Batteries.” I grabbed onto the jumper cables, noticed they were burning hot (another ‘not good’ sign), and ripped them off each of our batteries from as much distance as the cables would allow.

The flames and smoke stopped after a few seconds, and we escaped the maiming that seemed so imminent. Keith headed home after I called my wife and asked her to come pick me up. While waiting, a man offered to help and identified himself as a mechanic. He checked out my car battery and noticed that the positive terminal connector had literally melted off my battery. My car was going nowhere until I purchased and installed a new battery. So, I have a new item on my agenda for today.

Michelle picked me up (my meeting location was a full hour roundtrip from home), and we got back home and to bed just before midnight.

Yesterday goes in the bad column.

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Anonymous said...

Yow! I wonder why that happened? Quick thinking on yanking off the jumper cables.

I recall your lawnmower-smoking-grass-cigar post. Have you had other smoking vehicle situations? I'm probably misremembering but it seems like "burst into flames" and "flood" have been mentioned a few times here.

Of course such stories are more interesting that "nothing much happened on the way to the office."