Car Washes & The Meaning of Life

carwashes and the meaning of life
Maxine is owned by Hallmark but I’m borrowing her for this post

Recently I had one of those weird days. You know the kind that starts out perfect.The sun was shining when I woke up and sipping on my first coffee of the day, I felt good. It’s the little things in life that give us pleasure, right? Yes, but it was all a ruse. It was a big, fat lie.

As I was leaving for my yoga class, jack hammering started in the apartment (above? below? beside? across?). It was everywhere and it sounded like it was right in my kitchen. That should have been my first  sign.

After yoga class I felt utterly satisfied. And so my day continued except Screech! Put on the brakes. As I drove to my next plan for the day, there was an inexplicable traffic jam. The road was impassable.

Confession: My plan was to shop while I had my car washed inside and out. I know, it sounds kind of indulgent but I highly recommend it over scrubbing it yourself. So, due to the traffic jam I turned around to head back a little disappointed. However, I quickly thought of a plan ‘B’. We all know that Plan ‘B’ isn’t as good as plan ‘A’ but it will do.

That’s how I found myself at my neighborhood Co-op gas station/car wash. Plan ‘B’. I bought some gas, punched in ‘yes’ for the car wash, the beginning of my demise. The deluxe wash, yes I thought, get the top level wash—why not? Your car deserves it.

some e-cards

As I waited in line for the wash I received an email from a young lady who specializes in word press websites.  She informed me that there were many things wrong with my website. Mostly, she wondered how did anyone find my site? It was not SEO ranked…blah, blah…What? I have an ‘all in one SEO package’. I use key words, tags, meta stuff. Anyway, my site was a hot mess but she had succeeded in backing it up. My anxiety level was rising as I entered the wash.

I put my phone down so I could pay attention to the instructions that lit up inside the wash. Soon I was encased in noisy sprays of water, then the soap suds coated my baby. Ahhh, this was long overdue.

When I drove out of the dryer feeling smug and fresh, I pulled over to the vacuum. When I got out of my car soap dripped in from the door and I couldn’t help but notice that my car looked almost exactly the same as when I went in. No kidding.

Left over soap was dripping off the roof, hood and in the door creases. Luckily, I had a semi clean towel in my trunk to wipe it down.

I couldn’t put coins in the vacuum, it only took tokens. So, since I had to walk back over to the gas station I thought I’ll take the towel full of soap and dirt and show an employee  because I’ve seriously never been through such a useless car wash.  Might as well have shut it down for all the good it’s doing.  I was going to tell the next person with a name tag that very thing (as if they would care).

“Can I help you?” Asked a lady of indefinite age with eyes like raisins and cheeks like a cinnamon bun.

“Yes” I smiled “I’d like to vacuum my car. Can I buy tokens from you?” I started out with the soft approach.

“Yes” She sauntered behind the counter, up to the till getting ready to take more money from me.

“By the way. I just came out of the car wash and my car still had soap suds and dirt on it. So, I think maybe…”

“It doesn’t wash off road grime.” The bun lady interrupted me with confidence.

“What does it do then?” I asked innocently.

“Pardon me?” Bun lady looked confused.

“Well, what does it do if it doesn’t take road grime off…” I lifted the towel up to show her the dirt and soap but she didn’t even glance at it. Apparently all the customers come in with dirty towels and she’d seen her fair share. Instead, she interrupted me again.

“You have to scrub it by hand first.” She said looking at me like I was simply the dumbest person on earth.

“Oh. So, wash it first by hand then pay this place twelve bucks to go through the wash?” I asked in bewilderment. This wasn’t going so well.

“Yes. It doesn’t remove grime.” She explained to stupid me.

I wanted to say What about the soap left over? Your rinse cycle is broken too. Instead, the voice inside my head asked me What are you doing? Leave the poor bun lady alone. She probably doesn’t earn much money. I doubt she dreamed she’d become a gas station/car wash monitor when she grew up.

So I said:

“I’ll get some vacuum tokens.” And salvage what I can of this complete waste of time inside my head.

“Your membership number?” She asked, curtly.

Inside my head; Seriously? If I had a membership number here would I be surprised by the shitty car wash?

“I’m not a member.” I answered. Suddenly I felt a twinge of…was that shame? You don’t belong here said inside voice. I wasn’t sure if it was because I couldn’t afford it or if I was too well off to need it. Either way I felt slightly inadequate for a moment.

I walked away with my tokens and dirty towel. I couldn’t leave well enough alone though.

I said on the way out “That was the worst car wash I’ve been in.” She stared blankly. So I continued “I think there’s something wrong with it as in: You should see about fixing it” I emphasized the last two words with a higher octave in my voice, almost a question.

I stopped just short of asking for my $12 back not that she would have obliged. She didn’t have a fuck left to give but I continued in hopes of getting at least an apology.

“I didn’t have high hopes to begin with but…wow…” I got nothing.

The voice inside my head came back. Just stop, she said. Walk away. You’re better than this. Don’t be like George on Seinfeld. Be more like Elaine. Oh, good point I agreed with my inside voice. Elaine would have smiled and clucked her tongue on the roof of her mouth and stared down the bun lady without a word where George would have whined about his $12. But because it’s the real world, I walked out as myself; a disgruntled customer carrying a dirty towel and some tokens.

At least it didn’t turn out like this…

The vacuum compensated for the car wash though. It was so powerful it sucked up my Lulu Lemon head band my daughter bought me for Christmas. That’s what you get for bothering the bun lady, inside voice reminded me.

It’s just, really? There are some things we want to count on and going through a car wash and coming out with a clean car is one of them. With all the things in life that we can’t count on do we need to add the car wash to the list? It’s the little things that make us happy and it’s also the little things that can drive us crazy. That’s true about relationships too but lets not go there.

So, I took my dirty car home to my noisy apartment and tried to fix my website.

In the end, it all added up to a wacky, weird day that made me question the whole universe and the meaning of life. How does a malfunctioning car wash cause me to ponder the meaning of life? I don’t know! (that was my inside voice).

Have you been a disgruntled customer lately? Do you listen to the voice inside your head or just say what you really think? Have you had a day go awry and then questioned the whole meaning of life? Please don’t tell me it’s just me…

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22 Replies to “Car Washes & The Meaning of Life”

  1. It doesn’t remove car grime? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. A car wash is supposed to WASH your car. Not wash it after you did all the hard work by hand.

    I would’ve been peeved too and maybe asked for a manager. If there was one there. You did the right thing by walking away…after giving her your two cents, of course. 😉

    BTW…I’ve tried subscribing to your blog to get email updates a few times but I never get the confirmation email. I’m not sure why not and don’t know if there is something I can do or you can do. I know this isn’t probably something you want to hear after those problems with your website, but I thought I’d mention it.

  2. Right? Thank you! I expected an apology at the very least—sheesh!

    Thank you for mentioning that about the subscriber problem! I really appreciate your mentioning it and I’m going to check it out now. Thanks, Chrys 🙂

  3. Reading this, all I could think was, “Why does she want to wash and vacuum her car? Who *does* that (besides my father)?” LoL… I’m just not that fancy 🙂

    1. Haha, Tara. I’m not that fancy either. I found french fries between the console and the passenger seat. Do we have the same father? I don’t think I’ve ever seen dirt on his car… 🙂

  4. That was a deep metaphor, Lisa, right?

    I mean, we need to work like hell to get rid of our grime and grease and dirt…and theeeeen, it’s never quite gone all the way….

    Was that it? Was it? was it?

    xxx kiss from MN

    Loved it.

  5. Hi Lisa,

    I agree that was a weird day but your narration was very interesting. It made me smile! Who washes the car before taking it to car wash?!!

    Yes, I too could never subscribe to your blog though I tried twice. So your wordpress expert seems to be right. Hope it is fixed soon.

    1. Hi Balroop, right? I mean who washes a car then pays to wash it again…? As for subscribing, it’s a mail chimp problem. I will get it fixed right away. Thanks for subscribing (in advance).

  6. oh lisa what a shit day!!!!

    the car wash is bullshit!!!! i think you should contact the manager because the bun lady clearly gives zero shits about it or you.

    great clip btw! poor doris!

    1. Hi Tracie, I know the bun lady has obviously told many people to go wash their car first, Hahaha. Geez. What a day it was. It really is the little things that are so often annoying when they go wrong.

  7. If it doesn’t remove car grime, what on earth would it remove?? House grime?? Silly carwash.
    I had a day like that today. It started full of promise and ended with a terrible mood and a headache – both of which are rare for me. I can’t shake it this week. Last week I was flying high and this week just feels heavy.

    1. Aw, I know exactly what you mean, Tamara. That sucks! It’s even worse when we can’t figure out exactly what made our mood turn to negative thoughts. Hope tomorrow is better for you (it will be!).

  8. You have to scrub it first? What a joke. The car wash I go to always lets people go back through if the car is still dirty after it gets out, and given that I let my car get pretty dirty at times, I almost always go through twice.

    1. Well, that sounds fair, Jeri. I don’t get it when places just treat your complaint like it doesn’t matter one bit. I won’t go back there again.

  9. Hi Lisa!

    So sorry about the day of frustration–I totally have days like that, too…the little things pile up in one big obstacle!! I’m glad your web site is all fixed up and hope you have a better day tomorrow!! <3

    1. Right? There really is no excuse for Bun Lady. She is of an age and experience to know better how to treat a customer. 😛 thanks for stopping by, Lily!

  10. Hey Lisa,

    I had to laugh. I’m not sure how they build those car washes in Vancouver but here in Texas no one would ever tell you it doesn’t remove grime or that you have to wash it yourself first before spending $12 to run it through their car wash. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard and of course I would have told the bun lady the same thing.

    Sounds like that just wasn’t your day but I haven’t had one of those in a very long time myself. Thank goodness although the guy upstairs did have his unit redone a few months ago and I heard that banging and smelled that odor for weeks. When you work at home there is no place to escape to. I refuse to take my laptop and go work someplace where their WiFi isn’t secure. I love my comfortable chair.

    Hope the days have been much better since then.


    1. Exactly, Adrienne! Sometimes these days come out of nowhere and kick ya in the pants. Glad you haven’t had one of those in a long time 😉 Working at home has its blessings and challenges. I go out to write sometimes because there are too many distractions at home some days.

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