In the future, car batteries will text you when they're ready to die. Today you might get no notice.
You park the car, run into the store, come back, turn the key, and ... nothing. Nothing?
You pop the hood, expecting to see a gremlin munching away at a cable, but it's just an indecipherable block of engine things. You call for a jump. Your mood is dark. Why couldn't the battery die on a convenient day? But then the jump-guy shows up, and suddenly the day improves.
This fellow is a blessing. Literally. That's Guy Blessing, the man with the juice.
So, how does it feel to be the best thing about someone's bad day? "That's the best part of my job. I got my white truck, like I'm driving up on a white horse." One out of 20, he says, can't get jumped, because the battery's stone dead. (In my case -- yes, that's how I met Guy -- the battery had a froth of acid around the poles. Despair: Where am I going to get a battery now? Guy's a blessing again: He had one in the van.)
Most people think our cruel, cruel winter is the heavy season for jumps, but is that so?
"I replace more in the heat of the summer. People will understand if they've had experience in a hot place like Phoenix -- we get a hot spell in the summer, the weak batteries more like to go bad. It's counterintuitive, but sales are higher in the hotter weather."
Guy's a native from the get-go: "I was born during the war, my dad was in the service, my mother was living in Robbinsdale in a little converted chicken coop." He taught industrial technology for years to junior high and high school kids, ran his own auto shop, managed a marina and ended up behind a desk. Sitting in one place, you suspect, is not his style.
"About nine years ago, I'd been released from the desk job, and I applied to be a tow-truck driver. The manager looked at my mechanical background and said he had something better for me." It's one thing to hook them up and take them away like a morgue wagon; it's another to cruise the town and bring them back to life.
While he was gently nudging the battery connector loose, Guy noted that his brother was a writer, like your correspondent. "He's a playwright. Lee Blessing."
Well, well: a famous Tony-nominated writer. So, does Guy ever tell his brother about the people and situations he encounters, suggesting he write a play about that?
"Well, I try to kind of stay out of that. He got all the creative genes, and I got all the pragmatic genes. He had one play, 'Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music,' and I remember going to it at some theater. He had somehow incorporated a real full-sized pickup truck into the staging, and they had to bring it up piece by piece. That's about as far as his mechanical abilities go." He laughs.
"We're always giving him ideas, but they don't seem to sink in."