Wednesday, 21 November 2007

knights in drunken armour

Some time ago, (I am being vague on purpose here) Debs, Suzie and I went to Mayaro with the usual gang of small boys and various others. Debs and I got there early. When Suzie arrived, it was dark and she pulled right up to the kitchen door, windows down, boys napping.

We got all the kids organized; offloading the food, bedding, games, surfboards, toiletries and such for a joyous two week stay on the beach. Then Suzie tried to start her car, to wind up the windows and move it out from under a couple dozen or so coconuts, which would certainly fall with perfect precision upon her windscreen, because that is what coconuts do.

The battery was dead. Completely. And given the approaching squalls, coconuts, and windows being down, this was not something that we could leave till tomorrow.

At first, we had much advice and assistance from eight little boys under the age of ten. We soon banished them, though, and Debs and Suzie began to walk down Sansucker Road in search of some jumper cables. Or better yet, a man with some jumper cables who would come gallantly to our rescue so that we wouldn't have to ruin our manicures. (ha!)

Ten minutes later, Debs and Suzie returned looking sheepish with two very old, very drunk Indian men. Driving a very old, very drunk 280 C. They came gallantly to our rescue, with jumper cables.

Have you used jumper cables? Let me explain: they consist of insulated wires, attached to four clamps. What you want to achieve is one clamp connected to your dead battery's positive battery terminal, and the other end of the same pair or wires connected to the working battery's terminal. Then, do the same, but the other way around. I don't explain this very well, but basically what you need is to create a complete circuit between the two batteries.

Mr. Ramlal from Piarco, as we were introduced, triumphantly brandished his jumper cables at Suzie's car, as his friend wobbled unsteadily nearby, and we realised that all was not well. Our rescuer only had half a jumper cable. I mean, two wires, with frayed ends and a clamp uncertainly attached to one wire on one end. They were remarkably rusty.

Debs was immediately banished into the house, being by nature unable to keep her temper around drunk Indian men (with strict instructions to hide the beer), and Suzie and I did some quick thinking. (me: "THIS is the best you can do?!?" her: "I got the impression the family was trying to get them out of the house...") These men certainly would not leave until we had been rescued, so we figured we would have to make it work. We clamped the one clamp onto one dead terminal, and gave some very specific instructions to Ramlal and his friend. Ramlal started his car, with instructions to SWITCH OFF if anyone screamed or there were fires. I clamped one wire onto the other dead terminal with a pair of pliers, and said, "NOW!"

Ramlal's friend, insulated with rags and a screwdriver, pressed the other ends of the cable onto the live battery terminals. Suzie started her car, and IT LIVED! Fire erupted from Ramlal's terminals, fed by the oily rag, and Ramlal's friend's hair stood on end as he received a shock that could only have been survived by one so inebriated. I went, "you okay? Okay Pappi? You sure?" and put out the fire with the rag. Suzie revved her car, and wound up the windows. Then she got out to profusely thank our gallant knights. We explained that we had no rum, and would no doubt see them on the beach tomorrow.

Ramlal and his friend, victorious, shook hands all around, carefully stowed their cables and jumped into their car, and reversed with a loud crunch right into the coconut tree. Suzie looked up with horror, leaped into her car and floored the gas before any disturbed coconuts could leap out onto her car.

I ran for my life, as I have seen a coconut run along a branch to drop on something fifteen feet away from the tree.

Ramlal and friend, oblivious to the added damage to their rear, lurched off down the road to have a celebratory drink, narrowly missed by several coconuts. Suzie parked in a coconut-free zone, and we retreated indoors. We were a little concerned about our electrocuted rescuer, but some discrete enquiries the next morning told us that no-one in the area had been rushed to the health centre. We are pretty certain that our friends have no recollection of the activities of the night, as we never heard from them again. Surely they would have come to eat, if they had remembered? Or maybe they figured that it was a lost cause, with no rum in the house?

I keep meaning to buy jumper cables...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Only in Trinidad...

Nan, do you remember when we drove out to Mayaro with Ryan and Chas and
Sam and when we got to your house, that big padlock was on the gate and you
didn't have a key? You found some man to cut the lock and just as he did,
he said, "This your house?" :)
Erin