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Monday, June 21, 2010

Lost GPS finds me! - The conclusion

I'm not a big fan of cliff dwellers/coat hangers or what ever those suspense-type stories are called. In part 1 (here), I found myself prattling on a little too long about a successful Saturday sale-ing and decided to make it a 2-part post. If you have the time to read on, you'll see why.

It is always best not to expect too much out of any electronic (or electric) device that you can't test.  This can be a good haggling point, because the sellers probably won't be able to confirm that either.  As I mentioned earlier, I had brought batteries with me by accident and that was my reason for digging deeper into this unknown GPS.  After fumbling with it to find the battery door, I was not surprised to see a small cloud of rusty dust appear and then settle to reveal one  chamber was harboring a corroded battery. The other chamber's batteries seemed fine as I slid them out. One, two, three....uh oh, where's #4?  Though corroded, the first battery had slid out and the contact on the battery door was tarnished but it rubbed clean. The second battery was wedged tight. I began looking for a  tool, among ones spread out for sale that would set this decayed energizer bunny free.   I found an ancient awl and began to peck away at the enemy. After 3-5 minutes of no luck, I thought about offering a dollar (down from $5) for this likely piece of junk. 

To my surprise, the older gentleman who had seemed cheery when he greeted us, now turned cantankerous and stubborn. "No!" he grunted, and took the unit attempting to free the ever-rusty battery himself. I watched in surprise as he over-zealously whacked the GPS on the edge of a workbench, "bang. Bang! BANG!!"  I interrupted his destructive ways by saying, "Uh, well.. You might not want to do that, being kind of a delicate instrument.."  He stared down the battery chamber as if to telekinetic-ally free it from its alkaline bonds. I was still open to haggling, figuring that he should have given up and countered by this point, instead, he enlisted his middle-aged son to tackle the problem.  The son immediately took the unit and walked into the house to who-knows-where?  AVA and I continued to look around the garage for something to pass the time. Lord knows what was happening to the GPS.  I figured it must have been one of those gifts that had some kind of history and despite the greatly reduced price from its purchase 10 years ago, they needed to get a tiny piece of it back. 5 minutes went by before the guy said, "Tools are in the basement, don't worry, he'll be out soon." I quit trying to force the issue of haggling, since I couldn't do anything until junior's return. At 10 minutes, I started to tell AVA that we were done, and as we headed out, junior made his emergence...but the battery was still lodged in deep. The owner took a good long look at the unit and said "How bout we both take a loss?... 2 bucks!" At this point I would have paid 6 just to get out of there, and said, "Sure!"  

Funnily enough, I not only bought the GPS, but the obsession over the extraction of the battery as well.  Near Route 7, I began to imagine finding a service station open and some veteran grease monkey ready and sympathetic with the right tool to pop out this Dur-rust-cell. We were at the point of our afternoon where my partner begins demanding that her weight in ice cream is the only thing that will keep her in her seat. I usually try to beg her off in order to keep from succumbing to the elitist pricing of Cold Stone and others like it.  I am well aware that her favorite flavor is Bribery. Fortunately, 2 miles up the road was a small ice cream shop and a service station next door.  Parked in the back we made our way to the most senior and greasiest mechanic we could find. "Tom" emerged as we got close, and though he tried to come up with a solution, he was stumped and could only give us the key to the bathroom, which at least made AVA happy. 

Back at the car, as AVA slurped her way around too much ice cream on too little cone, I tried to solve 2 problems: Why was I so obsessed with this? and, What the hell was holding that battery in there so tightly that 4 grown men couldn't budge it?   I figured that it must be something else that was holding this battery in. Since I had fresh batteries, maybe three good batteries plus one bad one might equal a small sign of life, thus energizing me to continue this pointless battle.  With 2 securely in place I began to slide the 3rd one next to its corroded cousin and found that it wouldn't go down all the way. My frustration quickly turned into renewed vigor as I realized all the banging, tapping, and coaxing had actually achieved a tiny victory. Even though it meant re-lodging the old battery back where it came from, it was actually a relief to know that it would budge. Well, now I was alternately tapping and banging and pushing with the hopes that whatever corrosion was in there would now sand itself down and become looser and looser. I was also running out of ice cream, as my companion, in between slurps was exclaiming louder and louder, "Let's just go, daddy!" I think I was just hearing that as, "Go daddy!" and finally, with enough of an edge to grab, I was victorious! Ceremoniously, I spiked the evil battery on the gravel parking lot yelling, "Gotcha! You S.O.B.!"  Unfortunately, all I had gained were the frozen stares of several patrons. Uttering a soft "ahem." I sheepishly sat back down in the car.

Fearing the worst for the newly freed contacts at the bottom of the chamber, I tapped out as much of the left-over corrosion as I could and replaced it with the new batteries. 
Not unlike Dr.Frankenstein, I thought "It's Alive!" and after about 3 minutes began tracking several satellites above. I had little knowledge of how it actually worked or what I would use it for, but it didn't matter; the little 45 minute battle I had fought and won tasted much sweeter than the ice cream that was now just a memory (and a mark or two) on AVA's face. 

In conclusion, I have found that this was a very popular device for hikers, campers, and fisherman for plotting and finding their way through dense forests. With the ability to mark points in near precise longitude, latitude, and altitude and save those points to return the same day or another, this was a neat little device to own, thanks to the 30 or so satellites that circle the globe for just such a purpose (as well as many other reasons). This story ends with a favorite topic of mine: coincidence, serendipity, or kismet. The next day, at work while sorting though a bag of videotapes (left for the tape recycling program we started 4 years ago), I noticed a shrink-wrapped vhs tape.  We have often separated these from the others so they can be resold at the local library book sale to help raise funds. It was the last tape I would have ever expected to see.
A complete how-to video for the "XL" model, which includes the model I had found. Whoa! Now that was a "find" that was meant to be found!

Coming Soon!  Guest blogger Bob Deakin shares the ultimate Estate Sale story. 


  1. I am glad you didn't create a two part cliff dwellers/coat hangers here as I'd probably miss part two and be wondering forever if the Dur-rust-cel came out... but LOVE that it works AND the instructional video...hysterical! Ava is a pip!

  2. Got your blog address from a geocache we found today. We started with the same GPS! Ours came free with purchase of an HP printer and we had no idea what to do with it till my husband found an article about geocaching in the NY Times (2003). The rest, as they say, is history! See you on the trails! Alphadog (Joni & Joe)


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