Tales from the Beat: Wolverine fan 'jumps' at chance to help Buckeye fan

By Tom Hardesty | Assistant Sports Editor Published:

By Tom Hardesty | Assistant Sports Editor

There is nothing quite like the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.

Widely considered the top rivalry in all of sports, it pits two tradition-rich football programs that each are supported by rabid, loyal fan bases with a shared disdain for the other.

Wolverine faithful refer to their enemy simply as Ohio, while Buckeye fans call their hated foe That Team Up North. There is, as they say, no love lost between the two.

But that doesn’t mean, however, that Buckeyes and Wolverines can’t come together for the common good — or at least try to.

Which was the case when Record Publishing weekly division editor Phil Keren, who hails (pardon the pun) from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and loves the maize-and-blue, and myself, a born-and-bred Buckeye who bleeds scarlet-and-gray, put our minds together one frozen night this past January during the polar vortex days.

Phil and I usually pull very late nights at the office and often are the last two souls remaining in the building in the wee hours of the morning.

It was on just such a late night when I wrapped things up at my computer, bundled up complete with heavy winter coat, gloves and hat, bid Phil goodnight at his desk and trudged into the Arctic night that had enveloped Northeast Ohio.

The temperature hovered around zero with a wind chill deep into minus territory as I made my way across the parking lot toward my car. Despite the short walk, I was already chilled and couldn’t wait to start the vehicle and immediately crank the heat up as high as it would go.

I reached my frozen car, put my stuff in the passenger seat, closed the door, put the key in the ignition, turned and ... nothing.

Not so much as a click, whirr or wheeze.

Dead as a doornail.

I tried a few more times and got nothing.

Considering that my knowledge of cars begins and ends at the gas pump, this was a problem.

It was very late, very cold and getting colder. As I sat in the freezer that was my car, I pondered my next move.

Then it occurred to me: Phil was still in the building! I had no idea if he knew anything about cars, but he had to know more than me.

It probably only needed a jump anyway, and surely he knew how to jump a car, I figured. My memory of how to jump a vehicle was sketchy at best, but I did have cables, so what could go wrong?

Encouraged, I went back into the building, found Phil still sitting at his computer, told him my car wouldn’t start and asked if he would mind giving my car a jump. Phil hesitated, which I took to mean he might be too busy at the moment, then he said, “Sure Tom. Let me grab my coat.”

Great! Reinforcements were on the way.

And off we went into the frigid darkness, Buckeyes and Wolverines working together. I went to my car and popped the hood, Phil moved his car over to mine and popped his hood, and the ordeal seemed a mere minutes away from being over.

I stood next to my car, chilled to the bone and shivering almost uncontrollably as I waited for Phil to exit his car and situate the cables on our respective batteries. But there was no Phil. After about a minute, I walked over to his car window, peered inside and saw, to my horror, that Phil was busily poring over his own vehicle owner’s manual. He was as clueless on the subject as me, which I found hard to believe since I know zilch about automobiles and don’t care to.

Time for Plan C, which meant for me to grab my own vehicle manual and flip to the “jumping your car” section — which wasn’t easy because by this time my fingers were so frozen I could barely move them. After several minutes of trying to make heads or tails out of the owner’s manual by the dim dome light of the car, I grew legitimately concerned about frostbite for the both of us.

My hands could barely function and my face was getting tight. So I walked over to Phil’s car and asked him if he had figured out how to jump-start a vehicle.

Sounding anything but confident, he said he wasn’t sure but we could try, so we got the cables out and cautiously began placing them on the batteries.

One problem: We weren’t exactly sure what went where, and the vehicle manuals weren’t clear on that point — at least, not clear to us. Not wanting to spark a fatal explosion by placing the cables incorrectly — and with both of us nearly frozen solid — we finally admitted defeat.

Amazingly, neither one of us had any idea how to jump a car without endangering our vehicles and ourselves.

And with that, we stumbled back into the building to thaw out, during which time I called AAA to come out and jump my car. An hour later, my vehicle was running like a dream and I was on my way home.

While the episode ended safely and successfully, I was a little disheartened that Buckeyes and Wolverines working together ultimately wasn’t enough to solve the problem.

But at least we gave it the college try.

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