Severson’s Law

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Well, this is how it seems sometimes. Two nights ago my wife decided that she needed to practice singing for an upcoming wedding this summer. Now, I have heard her sing countless times – choir in high school, on long road trips, at weddings, karaoke and drunken Moulin Rouge duets through our intercom system at home. However, she decided that she would be far too irritating practicing in our home, plus “what if the neighbors hear?”

She decided that she would rather get in the car and drive around to practice her singing. This is not something I was particularly enthused with as her driving record is less than stellar (to be fair we are accident free for a little over 2 years, knock on wood). We compromised that she would drive two blocks to the church parking lot at the end of our street, park, and practice. Fine. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

An hour later my phone rings…

You have got to be kidding me.

“My car won’t start.”

“Why was it shut off?”

“I don’t know.”

“What happens when you turn the key?”

“It just makes a clicking noise.”

sigh “I’ll be there in a second.”

“Don’t be mad at me.”


Now, just to set the scene, I am watching the Twins game as this happens and am walking out the door as Torii Hunter hits, what ends up being, the game winning home run. I am wearing basketball shorts, a scrubby t-shirt and black dress socks still pulled halfway up my calf (cutting off circulation to my feet) because I was too lazy to take them off when I got home from work. So, I slid on the black loafers that I wore to work, and got in the car.

I pull the nose of my car up to hers in the parking lot and get out.

I need to get the jumper cables out of her trunk, jump the car and we will be out of here in 5 minutes. This is an example of the positive affirmations that I say to myself, but do not believe.

“Can you pop the hood?”

She is looking on the door and under the steering wheel.

“Do you know how to pop your hood?”

“No.” She looks so adorable saying it that is all but impossible to stay mad, but I do my best.

I pop the hood, then press the button to pop the trunk. Nothing happens. I press the button on the key fob. Nothing happens. I walk around the back of the car to manually unlock the trunk and I can’t find the lock (I’m obviously not a car guy).

I start investigating the back seat to see if the seats fold down and, to be honest, I still am not sure whether or not they do. I start looking through the owner’s manual when my  wife announces that she has found the lock on the trunk.

I’m an idiot.

I get the jumper cables out and start to hook them up (yes, I have successfully jumped a car before). As soon as I complete hooking up the cables all of the lights on the car start flashing, both exterior and interior. This is the curveball I needed at 10:15 PM on a Tuesday in an empty church parking lot.

I get in the driver seat, turn the key and nothing happens. So, I check the cables and they appear to be hooked up correctly.

“You know, what?” I say.


“I bet the lights flashing is how the car tells you that the battery is dead and the lights stop flashing when its ready to start.”

This is another one of my positive affirmations that I don’t believe. I do believe, in hindsight, that it is one of the top 10 most idiotic things I have ever said.

My wife all this time has been using Google to find a solution to the flashing lights problem and has narrowed it down to a blown fuse or a bad alternator. I can already see a giant bill in my future for replacing an alternator and the anxiety is crushing my chest.

I open the fuse box while simultaneously trying to see what fuses apply to what in the owner’s manual. I try to pull a fuse out just to get a look, but I can’t figure that out. Then, I look in the manual to see what the difference between a good and bad fuse is. Luckily there are pictures. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the difference between the good and bad, seriously, they are the same exact image. This is some kind of cruel joke.

“Well, let’s go back to the house so I can call roadside assistance, get my wallet, and change my socks and shoes so that the tow truck driver doesn’t think I am a complete moron.”

“You’re not a moron.”

So, that is what we do. Then, we head back down the street to the car. I park in a position so that I will be able to flag down the truck.

We are sitting in silence, faces glowing from our cell phone screens, when I see a car turn on in the parking lot close to the actual church and it heads our way.

Maybe they are just leaving.


The car pulls up directly behind mine and sits there.

“Jesus Christ, what do these assholes want?”

My wife is laughing.

The car slowly starts to circle mine and comes parallel with mine, about twenty feet away, as I make eye contact with the guy in the passenger seat. He just stares at me as the slowly continue the circle. Then, they stop directly in front of us and stare. Finally, they pull around to the passenger side and I roll down the window.

“Hello” I say, trying to be as cheerful as possible at 11:00 PM on a Tuesday night.

“Hi.” He stares blankly, “Everything okay?”

“Yep, that’s our car,” I point behind him, “we are waiting on a tow truck.”

“Yeah… saw lights flashin’.”


“Okay then.”

And they drive away. What would this night be without one of my patented awkward interactions.

Finally, the tow truck pulls into the parking lot, drives in front of the car and starts to drop the arm. I walked up to his window.

“Before you do anything else, I think you should try to jump it.”

“Didn’t you do that already?”

“You are underestimating my level of stupidity.”

He laughs, “alright, let’s give it a shot.”

He hooked up the cables and I stand there and stare at him.

“…you can give it a shot.”


Guess what…

The car started up right away.

I am an idiot.

He told me to take a drive and charge up the battery since I live so close. I am more than happy to do so.

As I drive, I wonder, what will happen next?

Stay tuned.