The Life of Bon: Free Car Wash

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Free Car Wash

Yesterday I noticed something quite strange was going on with my car.  It was covered in all variations of mud, filth, snow, grime, and every other possible form of dirt you can imagine.  I quickly calculated when the last time was I had washed my car.  No recent memory of car washing came to me.  It was time to give my old car a good scrub down, I concluded.

Naturally I did not want to pay eight bucks to wash my car.  To be honest with you, I didn't want to pay any amount of bucks to wash my car.  There are some things I just can't stand to pay money for, and car washing is one of them.  I remembered I had a coupon for a free car wash at the Gas N Go.  So I drove on over, handed my coupon to the bored gas station attendant dude, and was on my way to free car wash.

"Now," the man had told me when handing me my car wash code, "Go in slowly and when yada yada yada drive forward yada yada stop yada yada if you don't yada yada yada."  Wow, was he still talking?  Just give me that code already, I think I've been through a car wash a couple of times in my life, buddy.

I drove up, punched in the code, and drove forward just like the lights told me.  Here's the thing about automatic car washes.  It can really tricky to get do it right.  Most car washes require you to put your front tire right inbetween two bars of steel and then the wash automatically goes on.  Well, I personally have great trouble putting my tire right in between those two bars.  I am not the most accurate driver, let's just say.  And the hood of my car blocks my visibility to see if I really am in the right place.  Every time I go through a car wash I have to open my door, stick my head out like an idiot, and watch to see if I am in the right place.

Oh shoot.  I wasn't in right.  The steel was busting my hub cap.  I'm embarrassed to tell you this, but I have lost more than one hubcap in my life to the hazards of a cheap car wash.  I knew I had to get that hubcap off the steel quick or it was back to Wal-mart for me for another set of $20 hubcaps.

I backed up slowly, trying despearately to get my hubcap to stop crunching against that dang bar.  I blamed Gas N Go and their stupid coupon.  That's the thing with coupons- you might get it for free, but they're always throwing out the cheapest quality things on those coupons.  And like a sucker, I fall for it every time.

At this point I noticed a big truck behind me, patiently waiting his turn for the car wash.  Trucks always get behind me in car washes and drive throughs.  I don't know why.  I swear they do it on purpose to intimidate me, but I would not be scared by this big black meanie.  I ignored him and figured he would just have to endure my car wash trials with me.

Finally I got past the bar successfully and the light switched on to "Stop."  I breathed a sigh of relief.  I had made it.  I cranked up my Beatles tune, sipped my diet coke and let the car wash do the rest. 

I waited.
And waited.
The car wash wasn't doing much.  It was just spraying a little bit amount of water straight out, missing my car by a mile.

"Stupid cheap &*%$ car wash" I muttered under my breath.

Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw something very scary approaching in my rear view mirror.  The driver's side door of the truck had opened, and out had stepped an unnaturally tall, lanky man with a cowboy hat.    I watched in horror as he strided toward my car.  Was he coming to talk to me?  Was he approaching my car?  What did he want with me?  My mind raced quickly.  What do I do?  Should I just drive away?  No... I hadn't got my free car wash yet, dang it!  Should I act like I didn't see him? 

So I did the only thing a sane girl trying to get a free car wash can do.

I ducked.  Ducked low in my seat and pretended I didn't see this freakishly tall man making his way toward my car.

It was to no avail.  He knocked on my window.  You can't pretend to not see a knock, people.  I was busted.

I rolled down the window, acted cool, and greeted the man with the biggest smile I could slap on my face, "Oh, hello, sir." 

He didn't bother to say hello back.  Rather, he went straight to business.  "Your front tire is supposed to be on the metal, not your back tire.  You've driven up too far.  Didn't the gas station clerk give you instructions?"  My mind flashed back to my interaction with the clerk.  There were a lot of words said that I did not listen to.
 "No, he didn't,"  I lied. 
"Well, you need to back up!"  And with that he walked away and out of my life forever.  Or so I hoped.

I backed up, dangerously passed through those two metal bars again, and within a couple of slow, very careful minutes, I had my car where it was supposed to be.  I turned off the engine, cranked up my Beatles tunes, and returned to sipping on my diet coke.

I waited.
And waited.
The car wash did nothing.
Not even a hint of water.  No flashing lights.

In a moment of weakness, I checked my rearview mirror.  And sure enough, there was the lanky man, hopping down from his truck once again.  I thought again of just driving off, but this time I was a little more mature about the whole thing, thank you very much.  I rolled my car window down and awaited his arrival.

"Miss, you've set off the car wash so that it thinks you've already gone through.  No water is going to come out now.  You need to go get another code from the gas station attendant."

"Oh okay."  I felt dumb.  Real dumb.

Some people would have too much pride to ask the same man for a free car wash again, after having failed the first one.  But not me.  No pride whatsoever when it comes to free.  So I drove on through that car wash yet again, pulled up in front of the good old Gas N Go, and marched my way in there to yell at the gas station clerk for having a P.O.S. car wash.

"Ma'am did you listen to what I said last time?  You can't just go driving on in there as fast as you want.  Some people just haul through there and don't pay attention to the lights."  I was no dummy.  I knew exactly who he was referring to when he said "some people" and I didn't like his implication!  Well I've got news for you, Mr. Clerk, I didn't drive too fast, if anything I drove too slow because I was trying to align my tire up with those tricky narrow bars of yours!  And who can be watching for the lights that say 'Drive forward' and 'Stop' and 'Back up' when you have to be watching to make sure that your hubcap isn't violently ripped off by the dangerous bars jutting out of the ground? Sheesh. Give me a break around here, people.

Of course I didn't say any of this.  I listened carefully to his instructions this time, took that car wash code with my tail between my legs and shuffled out of the gas station.  You better believe I pulled right on up just as Mr. Lanky in the black truck was finishing up his wash.

With much care and precision, I managed to align my tire up correctly and watch for the the lights that told me when to stop driving.  But it wasn't easy.  Not at all.  Free car washes these days, I swear you've got to be a rocket scientist to get through one successfully.