The independent woman’s guide to car batteries.

It’s a Monday public holiday, the weather is unseasonably warm for a Melbourne March, and you’re looking forward to a productive day of exploring, shopping and coffee. You leap into your car and try to turn over the motor and instead of that satisfying chugga-chk-VROOM sound, your engine bay erupts with a noise like a band of rhesus monkeys on bath salts playing dubstep with castanets.

Congratulations! Your battery is rooted. But don’t panic, I’ve put together step-by-step instructions on how to remedy this mechanical malady.

Step 1. Open your bonnet and look for crazed castanet monkeys. Find nothing.

Step 2. Call your dad. He refuses to travel the 3000km immediately to help you, because he doesn’t love you at all, obviously. But he does advise you to remove the contacts and clean them before you decide to replace the battery.

Step 3. Walk to the shops and purchase an adjustable wrench.

Step 4. Buy a new couch cover and throw cushions while you’re there. Ooh, and this candle holder is cute.
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Step 5. Locate car battery under bonnet. It’s important to assert your dominance by waving the wrench at it in a threatening manner. Show your teeth a little, too.
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Step 6. While repeating the litany “lefty loosey, righty tighty,” undo whatever nuts are anywhere in the vicinity of the battery. Yes, even that one. Ignore the green fluid trickling out.

Step 7. Realise you have stupid, useless fragile girl-hands, and are physically incapable of removing the bolts from their seats. Also your reckless spanner technique is shaving large chunks of lead off the entire arrangement.

Step 8. Phone RACV Roadside Assist. Feel pathetic and chastened. Open a beer and eat a cupcake.

Step 10. Explain to RACV man about the rhesus dubstep castanets and that you’ve already loosened the nuts to clean the contacts. Feel glowy and smug when he gives you a surprised glance and says “oh, you know about cars!”

Step 11. Realise that comment was sexist, not complimentary.

Step 12. Remember you can’t even undo nuts. No harm, no foul, RACV man.

Step 13. Give the RACV man $160 for a new battery for which you could have paid half the price at Kmart if you weren’t weak as piss and could undo the goddamn battery terminals yourself.

Step 14. Have another beer. Eat another cupcake.

* * * * * * *

In all seriousness, there are few things that piss me off more than being unable to perform simple tasks because of physical limitations. I’m certainly not alone in this, but I translate incursions on my independence as attacks on my self-esteem. I guess it’s one of the perils of living as a single woman – you expect yourself to be capable of tackling everything, and when it turns out you can’t, it’s like a host of Disney Princesses suddenly materialise out of the mirror and start singing about how you need a prince to change your tire and move that heavy book shelf into the spare room. On the other hand, I suspect these issues would be far worse if I was a man.

At least I have a nice couch cover now.