…Let me tell you it’s always cool
And the boss don’t mind sometimes if you act the fool
At the car wash
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Talkin’ about the car wash, girl
Come on, ya’all and sing it for me…
— Rose Royce, Car Wash
Last night I got my car washed at the place by my grocery store. It had been a week since I had been there — a long week of avoiding the place in spite of the grime covering my car. See, I learned a very important lesson a week ago at the car wash:
It is very important to put your car into Neutral.
I could blame my experience on the Prius’ miniature/toy stick shift next to the steering wheel. I mean, all you need to do is tap — yes, tap — the knob to the left to shift from Drive into Neutral. I did this… I just didn’t double check to make sure that the tap worked. So the next thing I know I’m cruising into the car wash thinking, “Gee, this is moving fast…Wait! Why am I about to crash into the car in front of me?!!”
I did not crash into the car in front of me; because of quick reflexes I braked. Note that “quick reflexes” don’t necessarily equal “smart brain” because it didn’t occur to me that my Neutral tappy-tap hadn’t worked, or that I had not actually shifted out of Drive. I assumed that something was wrong with the car wash — robotics gone wild! So, after letting up on the brake some, the next thing I know I’m about ready to ram into the car in front of me again.
The attendant, a burly sort of fellow, ran into the office to shut off the system and came over to yell at me to back up. I cringed, backed up and made sure my tap worked this time. He started the wash again. From my rearview mirror I could see him shaking his head and muttering.
Then I learned another important lesson:
The car wash runs on a timer.
Since I had not exactly followed the directions and the angry attendant had to restart everything, my car proceeded through but ended up half-covered in suds because the timing was all off. I guess I thought maybe it used pressure sensors, but, honestly, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it before this. Who knew? I was too embarrassed to go back again and drove off.
Fast forward a week.
Last night I went back to the same car wash. I was relieved there was a different gruff attendant on duty, but I felt anxious all the same. My car (in Neutral) rolled in without incident, but right away I noticed bright headlights in my rearview mirror and saw that an equally dumbass driver behind me was about to do the same thing I had done! The attendant ran into the office to halt the wash, and the other driver backed up. I had only gone a few feet, but when the wash started up again it was like my car was moving in slow mo, like the machines just gave up on us humans. I started to feel panicky.
I got through to the other side, but the timing was off again and I could see soap still on the tail end of my car.
Five dollars or not, I ain’t going back there again. Too hard on my nerves. Too much bad, soapy juju.