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.


Cut Offs

Last night I went to a concert. It was one I had been looking forward to. I am not going to be specific but it was a band that’s been around for about 12 or 13 years and is alternative rock maybe borderline punk. The front man is amazingly talented with a gifted set of pipes and a flamboyant stage presence. I love him.

I took my 15 year old son. I unfortunately made him dress up a little which was not IMG_8642 2really a good call on my part but I really enjoyed seeing him looking so put together and handsome. The problem was that everyone at this concert was so dressed down that they looked like they got their clothes from the dumpster in back of the Goodwill. My son made a comment that he was the only person wearing a color. Not one person had on any color except for the girls wrapped in gay pride flags. (Don’t get weird – it’s just true) That was the only color we saw anyone wearing! That and faded turquoise blue hair.

So the issue for me is this: Why do gorgeous people.. inside and out, make themselves look as grungy as possible? I could tell it was a deliberate look. What is the allure of faded unusual colored hair (for some reason I never see it bright), cut offs and  a crappy band tee shirt? How do people get to a point where they get dressed in rags rather than pretty fabrics and say yes, this is the perfect costume for me. IMG_8641It seemed like every person was wearing the same costume. We felt really out of place. I didn’t understand the fashion. I felt like a reverse rebel. People were looking at me and my son like “What are YOU doing here?” Well, I have a right to be there and I love the band as much as you! I just don’t feel comfortable in cut offs and a bra.

Every day when I drop my son off at the high school down the street, I see the girls in their “identity costumes”. We all dress the way we see ourselves. I know there is a dress code but it looks like the administration has given up since so many girls are wearing the shortest most shortest of the shortest short cut off pants in the world. It’s ….. well…… embarrassing. They are not covering their rears and barely the hoo ha. The girls are yanking and tugging on them as they ride up the cracks. I saw one the other day that literally made me laugh out loud as it looked like she did the cut early that morning while she was still a little sleepy. One leg shorter than the other and all jaggedy like. She was tugging and pulling and I could see the doubt in her eyes that she may not have made a good decision.

I know when I was a teenager we had our own wierdnesses. The pants we wore were so tight that none of us could breathe or sit, but we did get in trouble if we didn’t cover our body parts with some fabric. I remember hearing my mother say “those pants are too tight Annie”, as the door slammed behind me. I had not an ounce of fat on my 15 year old body so I really didn’t care. I had a bi-level hair cut or a drop perm and I often dressed in black tights and short boots while listening to the Go-Gos and Duran Duran on my cassette tape boom box. However, I could switch gears. I could also wear a cheerleading costume, or a sweater and cords or an AC/DC tee shirt and a pair of jeans. I tended to change my costumes as I had a diverse array of interests.

I find it interesting that many of us find one costume and that is the one we wear for life or for a very long season. It is one that says “this is me and I am in this box over here. You are wrong if you don’t like it”. I thought about trying to wear cut offs for a day or dying my hair turquoise just to try to figure out how that feels. I am content however to realize that everyone is just where they are at because of their own experiences and things that resonate with them. We observe from our own perspective and form opinions and sometimes judgements about others who differ from us. I am always grateful for my ability back when I was younger to move around in different groups rather then letting others label and pigeonhole me in to a limiting stereotype. I was a chameleon. I was a cheerleader, a drama geek, a nerd, a stoner, a rocker, a new waver, an artist, a student activist all rolled in to one. I also had a life that no one knew about outside of school. Maybe other people saw me as only one of those things but I was all of them. I still do this. I don’t want to be stereotyped. I don’t want to stereotype myself.

Everyone is coming from their own unique perspective. As long as your perspective isn’t violent or harming others, we can learn to tolerate each other, but we do appreciate it when you don’t cut your cut offs too short.