The Carwash

carwash image 1Today I took my car to the carwash after putting it off for months. I don’t go very often because I always seem to leave feeling duped. The lowest price is $14.99 and the guys giving you the ticket usually guilt you in to “The Works” – A $29.99 thrill ride that includes air freshener, Armor All on the tires and all sorts of other goodies that they tell you are important to the “health” of your vehicle. As if cherry flavored foam on my undercarriage is going to complete me. Well…. not at the carwash it won’t. I do my best to stand firm and insist on the “Basic”.

I drove in to the carwash from the wrong direction and the guy standing there got a little mad at me. He waved a dirty rag at me and pointed his arm to the left sternly. I stared at him for a moment and then proceeded through the area to make a u-turn. He got even angrier. I almost thought to leave because he might remember my car and forget to vacuum and wipe down the console, but I had driven a fair distance. I wanted to take advantage of the free coupon I got from my car dealership after they failed to wash my car after an oil change. Ain’t it great how everyone seems to go the extra mile when it comes to service in the “service” industry these days??

After my mistake, I went ahead and pulled around to the correct area and up to the gas pump. The guy there was much nicer than the angry rag waver. As a matter of fact, he was kinda hot in a ponytail and cigarette stained teeth kind of way. He made conversation with me about whether I liked my car or not. He called his girlfriend his “lady”. Very 1982 for a guy who was probably born that year.

I drive a Buick. Yep. A Buick. I love the friggin thing. It’s my third one. I’m kinda like Goldilocks with Buicks. I first had the big one –  the “Enclave”. It was a great car but when I got a divorce I thought I needed to downsize and it was too big for my newly single self.  Then for some strange reason I decided to get the more economical version called the  “Encore”. That car sucked. It would have been perfect if I was 25 and just out of college. Plus it was a lease. Who thought of this idea? I could only drive my car to work and back if I wanted to stay within the “allowable” mileage. What a crock. I finally landed on the “Envision”. This car is the perfect size for me and my size 13 shoe wearing son plus it’s gorgeous inside. Dave Ramsey would not approve of my payments but I value enjoyment as much as achievement. I spend a lot of time in my car and I drive around the Southwest and California all the time so it’s worth it for me to drive a nice car.

Anyway, I was happy that this cool guy just let me get gas and use my coupon for a free wash without any up-selling and he even allowed me a little cougar flirting. It was refreshing.

I proceeded to the cashier past the unbelievable amount of available impulse buys. Cards, trinkets, air fresheners, leopard print garbage holders, cups, and various other crap that absolutely no one needs. Ever. I actually thought about buying a metal angel with the words “Drive safely” engraved on it and a hand cream that smelled like the ocean but somehow I managed to escape candle and card free.  I was just passing the time before I had to face the inevitable car wash disappointment.

I figured they weren’t going to do a good job because of my earlier faux pas and ….. I was right! However rather than get pissed and ask the guy if I could use his dirty dish towel and wipe down the dashboard in front of him like I used to, I have learned to keep Armor-All wipes in my car for just such an occasion. I have never gotten in to my car after a carwash and said “Wow, this is great! They did an awesome job!” Never. My eye sees details that were missed. And they pretty much missed everything on this one.

The cool thing about the particular carwash I chose was that they had free vacuums around the corner because I guess they know that they do a shitty job and let you do it yourself after they fail. Too bad they don’t provide the wipes too. I wondered if the free vacuums are only for people who get the unlimited car washes like my ex-husband who washes his car so much the paint job is suffering.

So my point is this: should we expect more from a $15 car wash? (Or in my case free) Should we just lower our expectations and realize that we are taking our car to the carwash because we are too lazy and too busy to take the time to bust out the bucket and hose and do it ourselves? It’s too much trouble to go to the do-it-yourself wash because we don’t want to dry the car off after we wash it. Is it right to feel cheated by the local vehicle bathers? The guys and gals there are making minimum wage and busting ass out in the elements for a $4 tip. (That brings the price up to $19 for the basic).

I think the thing I’m saying is that generally in retail and service establishments, the folks are working for the wage and not doing it to be truly of service in any way. It’s not part of our culture anymore. Seems like those days are gone. If only they realized that good service and going the extra mile to do a good job does not go unnoticed by the Universe. It just doesn’t. If you do the bare minimum and don’t take any pride in your work, even if it’s wiping down some bitchy lady’s steering wheel…. can you expect to be rewarded? If some customer is a big dummy and makes you mad at work, should you pay them back with slow or inadequate service. I think not. This will come back to you even though the business doesn’t belong to you. Perhaps not right away, but it will. I think Mr. Ponytail will do well. I remember his kindness in an otherwise boring suburban day.

So the next time you are wondering why you are stuck in your job and can’t get ahead, think about your acts of service. Do you go the extra mile for no reason except to be of service? Try it! It could possibly change your life and move you from working at the car wash to owning it.


Dinner for Free

IMG_8743My son and I go out to dinner a lot. We always have. My ex and I were avid diners and we went out to eat at least 2 to 3 times a week when we were married and Kevin went along in his car seat carrier until he could get in the high chair. He was great and well behaved in restaurants because he was raised going to them. Now it’s a little tough as I improve my diet and health and my son wants to continue to eat french fries and pizza at every meal. We are working on better ordering skills. When I was a kid we never went out. There were three of us and going out to dinner was an ordeal. Plus my brother and I would always fight and cause a scene and my mom just couldn’t deal with it. So that was that.

Tonight my son and I decided on dinner and a movie. We set out with no particular plan. We left early as getting in a restaurant in my area of Phoenix is tragic on a Saturday night. None of the restaurants take reservations so you just have to go get in line or sit and wait.  It’s horrible! So we got there at 5:30 and the wait was only 15 minutes but we decided on the bar since we could sit right down.

We ordered barbecue because um it was a barbecue joint. I love barbecue! There’s a place in Poway, CA that is the best BBQ in the world – Kominsky’s. It is delicious. Second would be Dave’s famous BBQ. They have the best sauces. Anyway, we ordered our food and I ordered baby back ribs, beans and grilled veggies (to try to add something that resembled healthy). We got the food really quickly and I could see immediately it wasn’t going to be delicious. I could see the fat on the ribs… which they said were the leaner ones than the St. Louis ribs, and the beans were in a bowl and no steam coming off of them. The veggies were altogether dried out and not hot. Seemed like the plate had been under a heat lamp waiting to go out to the next baby back rib order. It was Ok I guess but not that great.

I started critiquing the experience immediately and my son started groaning and rolling his eyes. “Mom, please don’t say anything”. He is used to me by now and I never remain silent when food or service isn’t good. Especially when it’s expensive. I am bewildered by the thousands of restaurants that offer bad food and bad service. When faced with either challenge, I try to be nice and just state the facts. I usually end up making friends but my son just hates it when I speak up about it. He thinks I should just be quiet and accept it without complaint. I just can’t. However, he asked me nicely so I refrained from saying anything about my dried up mushrooms and the gooey fat hanging from my baby backs. Fat little cow… or is it pig. Whatever.

After dinner my son headed for his usual after dinner bathroom excursion. As I sat there alone, the manager appeared before me. A tall, dark and handsome guys with a great demeanor. He asked me how my meal was. I said “It was ok” with a shrug. He said “Just OK?” “Yeah just ok”. He told me he was sorry to hear that and I told him that I promised my son I wouldn’t say anything but that the veggies were cold and the ribs were too fatty. I told him I gave it a C. He laughed and I may have flirted just a little but then he did the unexpected. He said “I’m going to take care of this for you”.  My eyes widened in surprise. “The whole thing??” and he said “Yep, the whole thing! I want my customers to be happy and I’d love for you to come back and try again”. I thought well, I may not come back for the food but if you’re here, I’ll be back tomorrow!! Sorry I’ll admit it, I’m a cougar. I couldn’t believe it! I really wasn’t expecting anything, but I thought he might want to know the truth. The truth is not a bad thing in this situation.

So I was relieved that my son had missed the entire exchange, but couldn’t wait to tell him that my “feedback” had gotten us a free dinner! As I told him the story, the manager returned with another rack of ribs packed up as a gift! Wow. That is going the extra mile to keep a customer happy, and my son saw that sometimes demanding something better in a nice way can actually pay off.

I am a food critic. I just am. I like dining out and I have been to some pretty good restaurants and some pretty bad ones too. I used to go to some of the fancy, trendy fine dining establishments back in my Vegas days which is probably why I expect so much out of the experience. I just feel like there are a ton of choices out there for food and service and if a restaurant wants to stay in business, they should do a good job! Don’t you? I know for some people, going out is a real luxury and for those people to have a bad experience is downright unfair. They should have a nice meal and an enjoyable time with great service at any price point. Otherwise, get out of the business! In an age where everything can be ordered online including a meal, the restaurant establishments should seriously consider dining at their own restaurant to see how the experience is. That way maybe they won’t have to give away free dinners too often.