Car wash chaos

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I love the feeling of leaving the local car wash with a sparkling clean car. It puts a smile on my face and pep in my step the way a new outfit or fresh haircut would.

What I dislike is the act of going through the car wash. For something that sounds so simple, it can be tricky business from the get-go. And it begins the instant they motion you to pull ahead when it’s your turn. That’s when the onslaught of hand motions begin: turn the wheels to the left. No, to the right. Wait—back to the left. Now two-and-three-quarter-inches forward.

It’s a lot like driving into a 15-minute oil change. One false move and there you go, plummeting into the grease pit of doom. But I digress.

Anyway, those car wheels need to line up just right, so the giant machine can lock the car onto the track and transport it from pre-rinse and foaming suds wash to final rinse and sonic dry air blast.

Then comes the next set of directives: Car in neutral. Hands off wheel. Foot off brake. No cell phone use while entering tunnel.

What happens if I don’t follow the directives? What if I follow them but not in order? Who has time for cell phones when all these car wash commands must be adhered to?

Such were the questions whirling through my mind when the attendant barked orders at me, snapping me back to reality.

“Foot off the brake, lady!”

“Stop yelling at me!”

He can try to deny it but we both know he rolled his eyes. He probably wished he’d taken the job as an outdoor sign twirler in the dead of winter. Better to freeze alive than deal with the crazy lady at the car wash, he thinks to himself. And with that, he sends my car into a tunnel of color-changing strobe lights, like we’re all going to a big disco party for cars.

Over the course of three or four minutes, my car and I stopped-and-started our way through the various stations of water and bubbles and blowing air.

Finally—thankfully—the light of day came into view. I kept my eye on the orange please-wait light on the left, and waited for it to change to the green pull-ahead-slowly light. That never happened, prompting the window guy to impatiently motion me forward.

I couldn’t help but wonder if I heard someone yelling, “good riddance” as I drove away. It was worth it though, because there’s nothing like a clean car.

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