Sunday, March 7, 2010

"At the Car Wash..."

"...whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Workin' at the car wash, girl. Come on ya'll and sing it for me. Car wash..." ---Rose Royce, MCA Records, 1976

OK, so I'm dating myself here. By the way, hi everyone. I'm back to stay and write often and a LOT! Watch out!

Some days since I last wrote have just been too jam-packed to take in/take jaw off the floor, digest, critique, put a humorous and positive spin on it and then share with you. I have decided, however, just to write some of it even if I can't write ALL of it. So, here goes..."reset button"...onto the "car wash incident".

We've had a messy winter in the northeast. Not nearly enough snow as I would have liked while other parts of the country got way MORE than they would have liked. However, it seemed like I had to wash my car at least once a week! This is a often for me.

My minivan is a dark maroon, so it really shows the dirt. We knew this going into it when we bought it, so I'm not complaining, just amazed at how much faster it got dirtier this winter than last!

I would wait until a snowstorm was over and all the slushy, salty, sandy, gross mess was dried up on the roads. I also knew it was time when I would open the rear hatch and there would be so much crust covering the paint that telltale fingerprints (telling the tale that SOMEONE'S BEEN IN THE TRUNK...check it out next time you're stopped at a red light behind a dirty car) wouldn't even SHOW. Bad. Yes.

Boom! Then it would snow again...just enough to make a MESS and not enough to enjoy (sledding, snow days, snowmen, and for Andy, shoveling as he lives for it). Back window? Do I HAVE one? I can't see through it. Telltale prints? Nope. Back to the ol' car wash.

Last Friday was no exception, well, "except" for the fact that it was supposed to be like spring this messy roads in the forecast! Malcolm is no longer afraid of the loud brushes and the jets of water spraying directly at his little face looking out the window. So, I don't have to wait until he is not with me to do the soapy, watery, frequent task.

OK, I pull up and put my $10 bill in, 'cause it says they accept cash $1's, $5's and $10's as well as codes that you get when you fill up at the attached gas station. (Oh, sorry, this is an automatic humans except the simulated robot voices that sound like them.) Not this $10 (my only cash on me), not this time. It kept going in and coming back out. Oh, that's because there's nowhere to receive change for my $6 cheapo wash. Only people who pay for the $10 wash get to use $10 bills...there was NO signage to this effect...just figured that out on my own!

OK, I'll find my debit card...darnit...oh, look! A line is forming behind me. Doh! I hit the steering wheel with my elbow as I was putting my card away. Is that going to be OK? I think so...uh oh...

I hit start, take my foot off the brake, put the car in neutral...sit and wait...track starts moving...clang, CLUNK!! My car is being pushed up on the left side by the little wheels on the track and slamming down again...this is not good. Some comments from the patient but concerned Peanut Gallery in the back start..."Mom, what did you DO?!?!" "I'm scared..." Reassuring comments TO the Peanut Gallery, "Oh, Mom just knocked the car out of the track. I'll back up and try again."

Back up, try again. Fully-automated plastic curtains close on the car wash as the machine thinks my car is all done and waits for the next person's money. (Hope they don't try a $10 bill for the cheap wash). I hit the "HELP" button and ask for a code from the human inside the gas station whose voice is real. They graciously give me one. I enter it. Redo. Let's roll. Look! The curtains are opening. Yay!!! Wait a minute...

Clang, CLUNK!! Not AGAIN! By now, poor Andy is crying. I don't blame him! It was quite a jolt! I reassured him again, but he just wanted to leave. Well, Mom can't get out of line because there are now...1, 2, 3...uh, 6 cars waiting behind us. Rose Royce was right that "...those cars never seem to stop comin'".

Thankfully, I could back up enough to once again attempt to put my (explicative) tires in the (explicative) track. WHY is this the first time this has EVER happened to me when I've done this 100 times?!?! There go those (explicative) curtains they're MOCKING me! Speaking of mocking, some guy (employee? random guy trying to torture me?) walks out from the front of the gas station (he's NOT in the ever-growing line...just walked up to me...). Why did he care? I dunno, maybe he's a friend of the curtains because he says, "You have to pay again. You missed your wash." (Ya think?). I said, "I already paid and I'm not going to pay again." Off he goes...good riddance, man-on-foot.

Third time is usually the charm, right? Let's hope so. At least Andy has stopped crying now. Drive up, hit the HELP button again to talk to the human. I must say, no one was honking at me, which I appreciated. I assumed because they just wanted to see how this nightmare would END and didn't want to disturb the show!

While waiting for the human to talk to me over the loud speaker, a man yelled out the window from the car behind me, "Take your foot off the brake!" "Well, dude, I would, but see, I'm waiting for the human to give me the code!" I didn't really say that. I figured, I can't say anything to make myself look less blond or less "clueless mom in a minivan". It was NOT the brake, it was my dang elbow that caused the whole problem, at least the first time.

Hark! Here comes the human that matches the voice! A different "human-on-foot", a female this time, not in a kind mood though. She said that I MUST line up my tires on the track and next time, open my door to SEE if they're lined up...(I DID! was my elbow first, then I don't KNOW WHAT the second time and...oh, NEVERMIND...there's just NOTHING I can say right now...). She typed in another code with her eyebrows furrowed.

Behind her was a youngish man who had emerged from one of the cars in the queue, dressed as if he was clearly coming home from work (...on a Friday...sorry, guy). He stood there and said, "You know you have to put your car in neutral, right?" I felt like he was really trying to help, although he was kind of smirking which made it unclear what he was doing...other than trying to move me the heck THROUGH. I tried to explain to him, since I thought maybe he'd understand about the elbowing and the second time fluke...

He commented that I still had my foot on the brake, as he could see my brake lights (smirk again...grrrrr to myself...). I explained that the human just left and I didn't want to roll over her toes since she was already in a bad mood, I hadn't started my wash yet and gee, I was talking to HIM now!!

He did end up walking me through though as I could barely think anymore..."put the car in neutral and THEN hit the start button..." I was moving!!! NO CLUNKING!! Cheering from the Peanut Gallery! Triumphant "YYESSS!!" from smirk from the dude in the business casual clothes with magnetic ID badge around his neck...and this time, a comment to boot...oh lucky me. "Next time put your car in neutral!"

So, we made it through. I'm not sure if anyone in that line bailed with their car still dirty. I was NOT going to look BACK!!! Even though my break-away mirrors were pushed in from the car wash and I couldn't see the reflection in them, I peeled out of there FAST! I thought maybe someone might be waiting for me who may do something worse than smirk. Not really, but I got out of face was almost as red as my maroon car! I pulled over in the next parking lot, fixed the mirrors and went home to Facebook about it.

"Let me tell you it's always cool..." Sorry, Rose Royce, not ALWAYS...


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