Nothing feels so first world as taking your car to a 100% hand wash. It’s difficult to look at car washes the same after Breaking Bad. No it doesn’t make any sense that a hand wash can employ as many people as it does and still turn a profit without being a embezzling front for drug money.
It’s 81 degrees outside in the middle of January and I’m paying someone else to wash my car. It negative 30 in other states, I’m sure they would trade places with me to wash their own car in 81 degree weather.
The lobby’s are always a weird place in-car washes. This one has an exceptionally long hallway leading to the cashier. On both sides of the hallway are plexiglass windows showing the workers hand wash your car, as if I wouldn’t believe them if I wasn’t watching them. On the left another large window showing workers doing oil changes and smog checks. It’s like Disneyland for unskilled labor.
Where there are not giant glass viewing portals of Hispanics making minimum wage plus tips, there are posters of race cars and race car drivers left over from the 80’s. Most are badly sun faded of long forgotten people, but there is one humongous hand painted mural of the exterior of the car wash that demands all attention. If I were to take it from the wall (and I’m sure hundreds of future car wash patrons would thank me) and turn it length wise, it would be over eight feet tall, about 5 feet wide.
I’m guessing it’s acrylic, it could also be colored mud and a Popsicle stick, hard to say. It has all the artistic merit of something a preschoolers parents would be proud enough to place on a refrigerator, and the composition of a cubist with one eye. It’s so bad that I am actually thinking about buying it and placing it over my couch, why? What a conversation starter.
“Why do you have a mural of a car wash that looks like it was hand painted by a elephant?’
And I would respond “Because fuck you, that’s why.”
I finally distract myself and shuffle on into the small lobby that is only lit by the sun. All the windows facing the sun are tinted black, so I speculate vampires get their cars washed here. There are shelves lining the walls with bric-a-brac and other car wash trinkets, several soda coolers filled with an array of brown carbonated liquids, and candies of questionable freshness and age. I open the last glass fronted fridge to grab a Fiji Bottled Water as that is the bottle water of choice for white influential middle class suburbanites (everyone has dreams) and approach the counter to a woman easily 3 times my body weight.
Without addressing me she says “2.95”. I look at her and say, “What?” As I had already forgotten what I was doing here. While still occupying herself with what ever magazine she is breathing heavily over she motions to my water. Confused I jut forth at her my small slip of paper that says what car wash I was getting. She then says “30.97” and I am even more confused because she has yet to look at me, my slip, or a treadmill, ever.
“Ok, can I get $5 cash back?” I always tip my car washer, car washie, car wash specialist. I’m always paranoid that more than one guy will be drying my car. What do they do, split the five? I would be cursing the asshole that gave me a $2.50 tip all day as change was jingling in my pocket. One large laminated advertisement for fake grass and 5 dollars and the woman points me outside and breaths “Give that to your car wash attendant.” That’s what they’re called, and how does she know the five was for him? I say in the most condescending voice I can muster “Have a nice day” and she fires back “You too.” Without ever breaking contact from her magazine. I would be pissed if I wasn’t kinda impressed by her commitment to ignoring everyone and still performing her job.
On the patio and a woman’s small child comes up and sit in the surprising modern patio chair next to me. I say “Hello sweetie” and ask her mother if she wants to sit in my seat. She says “No she will only be there for a few seconds.” As the little girl climbs out of the chair the dry warm breeze pushes the smell of shit from her diaper straight into my nose. Well, at least she’s not sitting next to me anymore.
I start to tack away on my phone before any of these thoughts slip away and realize I am a cynical piece of shit and cant wait to get in-front of my microphone and broadcast these thought all over the internets face. A honk from behind me and a wave from a man who couldn’t be living a life more different than mine holds my keys. He asks ‘Ok?’ and I do a quick glance over of my car not really looking for anything, as long as all four tires are still there and the headlights still work then Im a happy camper. I give him a five and get into my sussed up mini suv. What the fuck is that smell? Oh, thats the Spice fragrance I asked for. Smells like a sailors taint after three months out to sea.