Blame it on Costco

Today I wrote 116 words on my novel, bringing me to a total of 6,967 words. I fell rather far short of my daily goal. I could spend some time trying to catch up before midnight, but I think I’d rather tell you the story.

I didn’t do my writing (or any other work) today because I have a Costco membership.

This may not make a lot of sense, so I will explain further. In addition to my Costco membership, I have a friend who has a car that has been having trouble starting recently. He wanted to get a battery from Costco, where the car batteries are inexpensive and reportedly very good. He and I have a sort of symbiotic arrangement; he has a car, I have a Costco membership. The Costco membership encourages me to buy things in the sorts of quantities that I cannot carry on the motorcycle. Perhaps the better way to explain the relationship is that he does not have a Costco membership, and I do not own a car.

So I was happy to make the trip down to San Leandro so that we could walk into Costco with me flashing my membership card at the door. All was going great until we discovered that among the batteries that Costco had for sale, the kind that go into my friend’s Malibu is not one.

So we went from Costco over to Wal-Mart, which is very near the Costco. At this point I was no longer needed for the exercise. No one needs a $150 membership card to buy car batteries at Wal-Mart. But we were already in San Leandro and—this point is important to the story—the car was really having trouble starting. Getting the battery was really really important.

Oddly enough, Wal-Mart also did not have any batteries for a Chevy Malibu in stock. Weird, huh? So at that point we gave up. My friend decided he’d just get one of the expensive batteries from O’Reilly or AutoZone. We left Wal-Mart without buying anything and got in the car. My friend turned the key.

Nothing happened.

Well, something happened, but that something was not the car actually starting. The starter turned over, sort of. And then it almost turned over. And then it didn’t even try to turn over.

We asked a good samaritan (who I don’t think was an actual Samaritan) to help by jumpstarting the car. And you may have guessed by this point that jumpstarting didn’t work. It got dark and there were phone calls made to my friend’s housemate to look at the shop manuals to try and diagnose the problem. A flashlight was purchased from Wal-Mart and a multimeter was purchased from Home Depot so that repair could be made there in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in San Leandro.

After it became clear that the starter actually needs replacing (and the battery appears to be fine, so it’s a good thing we didn’t find the right battery anyway) a tow company was called. As my friend put it, he paid $85 for the privilege of replacing the starter in his own driveway. I think the privilege of doing the repair during daylight with his own tools and where he is only a few blocks away from an auto parts store are also probably upsides.

We arrived back at my friend’s house a little after nine pm, both hungry and tired. And without a car to go and pick up food. I made a trip to a nearby taco truck for a couple of burritos and brought them back on the motorcycle. By the time dinner was done with, I had a choice: I could put some more time into writing my novel, or I could write up my excuse for not writing my novel. You know how this story ends.

Judging by the length of this post, I only would have gotten another 650 words in anyway. I’ll go back at it tomorrow.


You could put a version of this story in your book! Include Kittery's bemusement at being in a car that's getting loaded onto a flatbed truck.

It was actually a good thing that neither Costco nor Wal-Mart had batteries, or I would have laid down $85 or so only to still be stranded and still have to pay for the tow and the starter.

It was an adventure, and we watched a little classic Doctor Who on the iPod while waiting for the tow truck: a story arc that started with the TARDIS immobile and in need of a dimensional jump start.