August 25, 2003
So, the last time I wrote, the battery had just died.
Friday afternoon, I had to go water plants for a vacationing friend who just happens to live close to the local Honda/Suzuki/Kawasaki/blah/blah dealership, so I stopped there for a battery. This battery cost me one hundred US dollars, and came with no warranty. None. Thus we come to the first moral of this sad story:
Learn From My Mistakes #1: Do not buy batteries from the dealer.
So I went home, put the electrolyte in, and stuck it on the charger.
On Saturday, my neighbor Rob offered to drive me to the bike to install the new battery. This sounded like a better plan than walking back to work, so I accepted. We piled in Rob's car with his 4-year-old son Inigo, and headed off to University Ave.
Unfortunately, this weekend was the Palo Alto Art and Wine Festival, held on -- you guessed it -- University Avenue. When we arrived, there were approximately eight bazillion people, white tents everywhere....and no motorcycle.
Muttering, we all piled back into Rob's car so that I could go home and call the police and determine where it had been towed. Inigo entertained us on the way home by telling me everything he knows (quite a lot) about tow trucks, until Rob finally said, "y'know, Inigo, I think Carolyn would appreciate it if you'd change the subject."
So I got home and called the Palo Alto police department, who told me to drive back to the station (about 2 blocks away from where my bike had been parked) and pick up a vehicle release form. So, I drove back to the station, and, finding it closed, picked up the little red after-hours phone on the outside of the building. I gave the cheerful receptionist my entire life story, and he told me to sit on the little bench and die of old age while waiting for an officer to come assist me. I called Peter to give him the update, and then sat down to rot.
Eventually, an officer came out and we went inside to fill out fifteen thousand forms, all of which said "parked RIGHT IN FRONT OF no parking sign" in really big letters. I explained that the battery had died; the officer was certainly sympathetic, but she still took one hundred and twenty-five US dollars in exchange for the vehicle release form. She said I could contest the fee if I wanted to, but that I really should have called them on Thursday to inform them that the bike wasn't functioning.
Learn From My Mistakes #2: Call the local police when your bike horks on the street.
As I was leaving, she called me back. "Oh, I forgot, here, they gave you a parking ticket, too." Lovely.
I drove back home with my precious vehicle release form. There, I threw my gear into my car, kidnapped Mark, and drove over to the impound lot. We were met there by the Friendly Ellison's Towing Guy, who, as it turned out, was also a motorcyclist. We all sat around and chatted about various local shops and roads and etc. while I filled out another fifteen thousand forms ("parked RIGHT IN FRONT OF no parking sign"). The Friendly Ellison's Towing Guy said that I really just had terrible timing, and that he felt bad about taking my money. Well, that made two of us -- I felt bad about giving it to him. But give it to him I must, and there went another two hundred and fifty US dollars.
After the forms were filled out, we walked out to the fenced off lot, and he disappeared inside and returned with my baby. He pushed it into an open area of the lot, and I brought over the new battery and proceeded to take apart the SVS. I think the Friendly Ellison's Towing Guy was a bit surprised to see that there was, actually, no battery in the bike at all when it was towed (I'd taken it out to give to the dealer when I bought the new battery).
Because I had about zero brain cells left at this point, I'd accidentally left the battery screws at home. I tried rigging up some ties with extra inline fuse wiring, but we decided it'd be better to just have Mark run back to my place and get the screws. So he did that, and I entertained myself (and the Friendly Ellison's Towing Guy) by doing part of the SVS service there in the impound lot while we waited. So the airbox and sparkplugs are all checked now and are in good shape. Friendly Ellison's Towing Guy just sort of sat there and watched me and asked a bunch of questions about where the female sportsbikers in the area hang out.
Eventually, Friendly Ellison's Towing Guy got another call and had to get going. Mark showed up with the battery screws shortly thereafter, and soon, the SVS was back in business. Mark drove my car home and I rode the SVS home.
So now, all is good. The bike is running well, and it's out of jail. I'm out about $500, making this the single most expensive dead battery ever...but what can you do. Next time, I guess I'll pay more attention to the dates on the "special event -- no parking" signs that I, y'know, parked directly in front of.