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.


Hero at the Tire Store

Low section of male mechanic repairing car's tire in repair shopI went to take my car in the other day because I had a nail in my tire and just needed it patched. I had about an hour before I had to be at an appointment so was hoping it would go quickly. Of course, two people were in front of me in the line and that took 15 minutes. So by the time I got to the front of the line I was irritated. The gentleman behind the counter was very nice. I explained to him that I was in a hurry and was hoping I could get the tire patched before I had to go to my appointment so I did not have to take an Uber. At first I was cranky. He stayed incredibly nice. He asked me how my day was going. I realized I was being bratty and I told him “I’m sorry, I’m just irritated because I want to try to get to my appointment without taking an Uber”. It was a good move on my part… to be honest and to apologize. To my surprise, he said with a huge smile on his face that he would do his very best to get me out of there so I did not have to take an Uber to my appointment. I didn’t really believe him but I sat down and waited. About 15 minutes later I asked if I could pay so that I could go quickly when the car was ready. He said yes. He started asking me a few questions like what kind of appointment was I going to… I hesitated because I was going to see my therapist. Instead I told him I had a doctors appointment. He then said “I don’t blame you for hesitating as I don’t like going to the doctor.” He said the last time he went to the VA it was not fun. Realizing he was a veteran, I then started to ask him a few questions. I became curious about his service. I asked if he was in Afghanistan. He said no he was in Iraq for 7 tours. That’s right 7 tours. This guy did not look older than 35 years old. He then started to share with me his experience. He enlisted after 9/11 because he said he was pissed off. He said that was not the main reason but that he wanted to be of service and to help people, himself and his family. He said that on his first tour his staff sergeant said “see you tomorrow” but then died that night. I was stunned. I asked him if it was scary. He said it was but that he knew he was supposed to be there. I almost got a tear. What an amazing thing to say. He said he saw a lot of things. 

Here was this guy (who I feel is a hero) working at Firestone tire. Here was me being bitchy to him because I wanted to make it to my appointment on time. My appointment with the therapist. I felt silly going to therapy over my minuscule problems when he had probably seen suffering, death and despair. He was still able to greet me with a smile and he even went the extra mile and got me out of there and to my appointment on time. He told me that he stopped another car from coming into the bay so that mine would get done first! Amazing.

My perspective changed. My whole day changed. I was so grateful to have had the chance to talk to this young man. It really made an impact on me. It made me realize that everything is about perspective and the way we perceive things. It’s about what we expect and how our mind works. Granted we are all different and some people are cut out to be badasses like this guy and it seemed easy. When I asked him if he had trouble sleeping or if he had to go to therapy he said no but that was just his personality. He said his buddy that was with him on one of his tours was shaking all the time and felt scared all the time. They were in the same situation but had totally different reactions. I do believe that the way we think is what creates our reality. Nevertheless, the lesson that I learned was one of great value. We do not know what another person‘s story is and we cannot assume. We should also know that ”when we change the way we look at things, what we look at changes” (Thanks Wayne Dyer, Bob Proctor and the rest). When I realized that this person had done a great service for this country and for many other people, I no longer felt impatient. My perspective on my problems changed too. They seemed tiny and I felt happier. I was grateful to have had the encounter and for staying loose and not holding on to my bad mood. I decided to go with the flow and let this person talk to me. And I’m so grateful that I did because he made an unexpected impact on me. I’m sure he doesn’t realize how big of an impact he made, but he did! The other thing he did was go the extra mile for me and greet me with a smile. These things go a long way. This was a great example for how I can conduct myself in my own life as well as my business. That’s all. Everyday heroes are everywhere.