Along the Trail: Car­wash 2

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary - CHUCK THOMP­SON

Af­ter I read my own words, I de­cided it was time to slay the anx­i­ety dragon and just do it: go to the car­wash and get it done. I mean we are not talk­ing open heart surgery here, just a car wash. So I waited un­til it was late in the day thus max­i­miz­ing the like­li­hood that there would be no one around in case a mad cap ad­ven­ture oc­curred. I had planned to just saunter into the car­wash and read the in­struc­tions to en­sure a suc­cess­ful re­sult.

Just as I en­tered the slip­pery car­wash, a woman sped up and drove straight into the bay. I kind of backed off, still try­ing to read what was hang­ing on the wall. As it turned out, the in­struc­tions were min­i­mal, at best, not giv­ing any idea how much to put in or what steps fol­lowed. No prob­lem, I rea­soned, this lady will be my pathfinder.

The stranger grabbed the hose then started to drop coins in the pro­vided slot. More coins and more coins, but no wa­ter. Noth­ing was hap­pen­ing. She was pour­ing coin like an ad­dict at the casino. She turned to me with pan­icked eyes and said “how much does this cost?” Ah ha, I thought, some­one else has hit a wall try­ing to get it done. “Not sure”, I said, as I qui­etly ex­ited the soapy bay.

This was too sim­i­lar to my ad­ven­ture in Florida to al­low me to slay the dragon.

Years ago, my daugh­ter and I de­cided to wash the car af­ter the long drive from Nova Sco­tia to Florida. We drove up the A1A high­way and pulled into a car wash we had spot­ted on the way down. I poured in all the Amer­i­can coin I had and she and I be­gan the process of rins­ing, then soap­ing down the car. There was a quiet at­ten­dant sit­ting on a chair nearby. Just as the car reached max­i­mum soap cov­er­age, ev­ery­thing stopped. No prob­lem. The guy was right there to make change for me. “Ex­cuse me,” I said, in my best Nova Sco­tia ac­cent, “can I get some change for the ma­chine?”

“Buenos Dias, senor,” he replied.

“Yes, Buenos Dias, can I get some coin here?” “Si senor, Buenos Dias.” Oh, oh, this is not go­ing well. It’s mid­day in Florida, sunny and about 30 de­grees Cel­sius. The soap is begin­ning to dry on the hot car and the in­tro­duc­tory Span­ish les­son has not pro­gressed. I have no idea where to turn. I am a stranger in a strange place and old Buenos Dias is no help what­so­ever. My part­ner in crime is hor­ri­fied, em­bar­rassed be­yond be­lief.

So I did the only sen­si­ble thing I could do: I pan­icked. I sped out of there, soap fly­ing off in all di­rec­tions. At least the soap that had not stuck in the heat.

We raced back to our chalet by the sea and begged the owner to lend me the hose. She obliged, and many hours later, the car was at least pre­sentable enough to head back out on the high­way. The next car wash took place in the back­yard in Mid­dle River weeks later. My soap, my hose, no coins, no one around. The ex­er­cise was good for me.

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