So I drive into work this morning and park in my usual spot.  I go through the set of motions that have become so automatic I don’t even think about them anymore: hold clutch in, shift into neutral, pull up on the parking brake, turn the key and pull it from the ignition.  And then I realized something was very strange.

The key was in my hand, and my car was still idling.

I tried turning the key back on, and got that awful gear grind from starting an already running car.  I turned it back off, and the car kept idling.

I called my husband.

T: “That ignition switch is bad again.”  We just replaced it about 2 years ago, after the switch my car was made with in 1993 finally went out.

T: “Try fiddling with the key and see if you can get it to turn off.”  Nope.

Me: “I can stall it out.”

T: “Yeah, but the dash lights will stay on, and that will drain your battery by the end of the day.”

Me: “Well, I could just get someone to give me a jump at the end of the day.  I have cables.” And I know how to use them, I think.

T: “Yeah, but that’s awful hard on your battery.  You could go out at lunch and recharge your battery.”  Eating a cup of ramen noodles in the cold at lunchtime?  Not my idea of fun.

Me: “Couldn’t I just pull the fuse?  Would that stop the battery from draining?”

T: “Yeah, that should work.  Make sure to pull the one that says ignition.”

not for a vintage Escort, but you get the idea

Proud to have come up with a solution, and of the fact that I know where both 1) my fuse box, and 2) my owner’s manual are, I look up the ignition fuse, check my fuse chart, and then try to open the cap on the fuse box.

No go.

Very few people are at work already, and B, the guy who knows everything about cars, isn’t here yet.  But J is here, and he owns a Jeep, so he must know something about cars, right?  I mean, Jeeps break down all the time, don’t they?

I go and get J.  He tells me he really doesn’t know much, but he’s willing to at least come down to the parking lot and try.

Well, with J as my talisman, one more try on my part gets the fuse box lid off.  But now I’m not sure how to pull out the fuses, which are flush with the box.  J can’t figure it out either, and his fingers are bigger than mine, and without nails for gripping.  There is one fuse sticking out from the others, that we could try and pull to get it out of the way.

J: “I don’t know.  I’d hate to just start ripping fuses out of your car.” I know perfectly well that pulling out fuses when the car is off won’t hurt anything. So I take over at this point.

After a bit more fiddling, I finally take a look at the fuse box lid, and discover a handy little pair of fuse tweezers in there.  Once more, I found the answer, not the guy.  Proof that car knowledge isn’t coded on the Y chromosome.

I pull the ignition fuse and get ready to head inside, but as I stand up, I realize that the dash lights are still on.  I decide I must need to pull the dashboard fuse, which was my first instinct.  Only, of all the options in the owner’s manual, none of them say “dashboard lights.”

Meanwhile, poor J is just standing in the drizzly cold next to me. So I thank him for his moral support, and send him back inside.  He’s a little reluctant, presumably since he’s supposed to be the responsible man, but he eventually heads back inside.

I start trying a few fuses whose descriptions sould like they might have to do with the dashboard.  None of them are working.  And that teeny set of fuse tweezers is killing my fingers.  And those fuses do not like to budge.  Finally, I get to the point where I simply can’t pull another one out, the tweezers keep slipping off.

B still isn’t here.  Back into the office to ask J about tools.

Here he is finally very helpful, since he has a tool kit in his car.  He’s not sure where it is, but we find it.  Then he’s not sure if there are needlenose pliers in it, since he’s never used it.  But he figures out how to get the plastic case open, and the pliers are, indeed, there.  He keeps an eye on the dash lights while I start pulling each of the fuses in sequence.  Finally we land on the right one.

And the door alarm starts beeping for the first time, because the keys are still in the ignition with the door open.  I take that as a good sign that things are somewhat back to normal.  J goes inside, I get things put away, and head up the stairs to my office too.

Then B finally pulls into the parking lot.

Since he is the car god of the office, I check in with him.  He thinks the fuse I pulled should have done the trick, but also suggests pulling the ignition switch again to make sure it isn’t draining power to my starter all day.  (He would have solved the battery drain problem by either running the car at lunchtime, or disconnecting the battery.  He seems mildly impressed with the innovative fuse option.) So I go back out and manage to pull the ignition fuse with the fuse tweezers.

And I now know one more thing about cars than I did this morning.  *smile*

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