This ain’t no place to be if you planned on bein’ a star

At the start of the long weekend, I made a list.

Careful readers will note I got everything accomplished on that list, but to tell you the truth, I could probably do one more load of laundry. I tried to tell myself it was a negligible amount of stuff left over, but I was kidding no one.

Nevertheless, I have the satisfaction of crossing everything off, but let me tell you what: Everything on my list saw travesty in some iteration.

On Saturday morning, when I was still fresh and feeling positive about the world [Disclaimer: I was over the world by the time I was 8], I called the oil place. I don’t mean I called deep inside the earth; I mean I called a place that changes your oil. I bought my car in December 2019, had SURGERY in February of 2020, then remained in my house for a year and three months after that. This has resulted in me finally putting 3,000 miles on my car, like, last week.

The first place I called is a homey car repair less than a mile away. They have excellent junk food in their lobby and everyone is really friendly. It seems to be run by a bunch of old people who I assume are related. Also, they have several framed and unframed photos of their dogs about the room.

Anyway, the phone just rang and rang there so I gave up. Then I called a chain. Not, like, a literal chain, as they do not have hands with which to answer a phone. I called some sort of oils are us oil-changing place.

“Yes; do I need to make an appointment to get my oil changed?”

“Ma’am, today you’d just hafta to drop your car off. Err’body gettin’ they earl changed today, for the holiday.”

I immediately loved him. I love people who just go ahead and talk like this on a work call.

“OK,” I said, charmed by Mr. Earl Change. “I’ll come Monday.”

“That’d be a whole lot better for all of us,” he said, and hung up.

So, next on my list was to clean my car. See above re 3,000 miles after a year and 7 months. I don’t know if I’ve ever vacuumed the inside of it, and here’s why. Back in my old neighborhood was this car wash where you drove up, told them which package you wanted (I always opted for the middle one. Not the cheap no-frills wash, and not the wash where they practically paint a mural on your car and add eyelashes to the headlights, a thing I have always sort of wanted and am also sort of appalled by), then you sat in the lobby perusing bad greeting cards and those scented trees while they did all the work. If you wanted to, you could stand at the window and watch your car go through the washy thing, then watch the men wiping and hosing and squirting your car with vanilla at the end. I always went for vanilla, and if they forgot that final touch I’d always ask for it. One of the other scent choices was baby powder, and I can’t for the life of me understand why you’d want your car to smell like a child’s ass.

That nice quaint car wash has changed to this miserable futuristic multi-station contraption where you have to do all the work. You have to vacuum your own car, and wipe out its insides and then hose it yourself. What sort of outrageous request is THAT? Why am I paying YOU for me to do all the WORK? This idea incensed me. The first time I saw that place, I lit the top of my head on fire and smoked nag champa-ly.

So I looked for another full-service car wash by, you know, Googling it, and the only one I can find in my town in the titty car wash. Women will wash your car for you, sans shirts, in another part of town. This seemed sort of, I don’t know, oppressive, so I drove to a self-serve car wash a mile from me. “I’ll just vacuum the inside,” I told myself. That was all I wanted. Edsel, see, rides with me any time I’m going somewhere that I don’t go inside, like if I’m mailing a letter or going to the delicious drive-thru at Captain D’s. I bring him because he always THINKS he wants to go with me, but then gets his hangdog letter C look when I turn the car on. And then he nervously sheds. So at this point the inside of my car is a cashmere sweater.

This car wash was pretty much in a bad neighborhood, and I considered that I might be bludgeoned to death for my 2018 Fiat 500X, but I would’ve led with that had it happened. Mostly it was just people also hosing out their cars. I pulled into a station next to a middle-aged man, who was happily vacuuming his SUV.

I got out of my car and read the instructions on the vacuum thingie, and got my dollar out to—-

No dollars. The damn thing didn’t take dollars. Nor did it take debit cards. What kind of rinky-dink…oh! There was a change station in the middle, and also a vending machine that sold those car trees. Those car trees, by the way, make me immediately sick as soon as I smell any of them. I have never seen the appeal. Although once I went Christmas tree shopping with my friend Beige, back in LA. I’d been to a Christmas party the night before, so I had on hangover sweats, a random t-shirt, and my beaded party bag because I was too lazy to change purses. Anyway, we crammed a 6-foot tree into my Volkswagen Bug, which meant we could no longer see each other, as there was evergreen sticking all the way from the back of the car to in between us.

“These trees in your car really do make it smell like pine!” I said, then patted own self with affection.

Anyway, the car wash. I put my four quarters in that I’d gone to all the trouble to retrieve, the vacuum turned on with a roar, and?

No suction. None. It just made a lot of noise and rested atop the Edsel fur.

What the…?

“Is your vacuum working?” I asked the middle-aged man next to me.

“Oh, yeah, mine’s working real good!” he said. “I’m fixin’ to leave, you want to come to this one.”

So I got MORE QUARTERS, and I have half a mind to sue that place for my lost dollar. Anyway, his did work better but you know what? It didn’t work that well. There was still a ton of Edsel fur in the car.

Then I was determined.

I drove to ANOTHER car wash, in an even WORSE neighborhood, and I don’t know why I didn’t just go somewhere nice, but these were so close by and I was exhausted from all that quarter-retrieving. Once again, this place didn’t have full service, even though Google said they did. I’d long given up the pipe dream of a place where men ran about hosing and wiping your car. I just wanted a drive-thru where you sat inside and that hula dancer came out at the end and wiped your car automatically. That’s all I needed at that point. Just the hula dancer.

But no. More vacuum machines and more banks with hoses.

It was then that I decided to try not just the bad vacuum bank, but the drive-in-there-and-wash-it-yourself part. My car needed washing, and clearly I was never going to find a place to wash it for me. “Lots of people a lot stupider than you know how to drive into these things and wash their car,” I told myself. I tell myself this a lot, and nearly always end up being a lot stupider than everyone I assume is a lot stupider than me.

There was a tall, detailed sign describing each part of your car washing experience. I think you could CHOOSE which parts you wanted, but I couldn’t figure out how to choose. I put in my $1.50 (this place at least took debit cards) and


all sorts of things came alive. Do you remember that scene in Naked Gun where Leslie Nielsen is trying to spy in an office at night, and the lights, sprinkler system and player piano all come on at once? That was me in that stupid car wash bank.


I wish someone had filmed me turning in circles in that thing. What do I grab first? I went to one hose but that wasn’t it. I went to the giant brush but it wasn’t doing anything.


OUT OF TIME. Oh my GOD I hadn’t DONE anything yet. I slid my card in a second time and grabbed the first hose. Oh! It had water trickling out of it!

I sprayed my car and then realized I had to turn this dial next to the debit card slot to get to the next level in my car wash game. There was pre-rinse, rinse, lather, rinse, repeat, wash, tumble dry, dry out, oily/dry/combination, it was a litany of things allegedly coming out of that hose. I was about three levels in before I noted the hose had a HANDLE, and if you pushed it, a lot more product came out.

Then my hose stopped working, and it was several suspenseful seconds before I noted the big brush was foaming at the mouth.

“Oh my god!” screeched, and scrubbed my car with the brush. I looked liked a nervous member of the Toothbrush Family.

The most suspenseful part was that I kept running out of TIME, so I’d have to go swipe my card again, and I estimate that whole thing cost $5,000. I sort of have a goal of getting all the steps in for the first $1.50, just to stick it to the man, but I also have a goal of never doing this to myself even again.

I know this story is similar to the last one I told you, in which everything went wrong, and I’d like to also mention that like the last story, I ended up hosing self and becoming soaked. Also, in looking at that photo of the Toothbrush Family, I had completely forgotten Suzy Sponge and wonder how she’s doing. Did she update that hair?

I won’t bore you with my “How the hell do you hold this dryer?” part of the car wash story. Suffice it to say that every step was a challenge, and if someone doesn’t invent a local car wash where they do the work for you, I will end up having one of those cars where people write WASH ME in it.

Eventually, soaked and irritated and still full of fur, I pulled out of my stupid car wash bank and turned around to head home.

And that’s when I saw that the middle bank was, in fact, a full-service automatic car wash.

And then, on the way home, I remembered I have a cordless vacuum at home that’s made specifically for animal hair.


Stay tuned for the next travesty: June and The Poet try to find a bandana.

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At one point, I was sort of hot, in a "she's 27 and probably a 7" kind of a way. Now I'm old and have to develop a charming personality. Guess how that's going.

43 thoughts on “This ain’t no place to be if you planned on bein’ a star”

  1. One of my favorite posts ever! We here in Naples have tons of every sort of car wash, except the top less ones. But- when my anxiety is bad I LOVE going to the drive through ones where they have rainbow colored soap and you feel like you’re moving backwards. I calms me down in the weirdest way.
    Lovely lovely post. Enjoy your peaches.


  2. Hi Juneeee.. I have a dog hair problem in my car. I’ve Googled my heart out and the advice given says to use spray the hair infested upholstery lightly with water, the use rubber gloves to “rake” up the hair – then vacuum. I guess it’s suppose to attract the hair like a magnet. I inherited my father’s 11 year old Blue Heeler and that dog’s hair stabs into the upholstery like porcupine quills. No vacuum gets it out – I almost threw my vacuum cleaner away Ugh. I’m trying the rubber glove experiment tomorrow.


  3. Why does life need to be so hard a lot of days? Even when you see someone with a real problem/ sickness/ tragedy and you tell yourself that you should be thankful for your pidley problem of the moment? I have to go back to my bldg to work full time in August. I have a lot of anxiety now about returning. It seems that each day brings some new thing to worry about. I really wish we could just fast forward through all of this. Thank you for taking us with you on your adventures, June! It helps to be able to laugh a little!


  4. I hate the car wash. I get anxious every time and I would NEVER go to a self serve. I will do the one where I hand over my keys, but I don’t even like the drive through ones where you have to drive into the tracks.

    Lovely post, lovely June!


    1. Same. I can’t seem to line up the wheels and the tracks right. A smart assed young male attendant was rolling his eyes at me.


  5. The way you write a story …I am there in my head seeing every thing that happens.
    Thanks so much. Enjoy your writing ,the funny that it ends up being..


  6. Depending on how dirty the outside of my car is, I either do the drive-thru carwash at my local gas station that doesn’t quite get all the dirt off and the dryer doesn’t quite dry the car off. If my car is really dirty, I just wash it myself at my house. I see no reason to pay money to someone else and still have to do all the work myself, thankyouverymuch.

    Luckily, the inside of my car always stays clean because no dogs in my car and I throw away the trash. I hate hate hate being inside a trash-filled car. I’d rather have dog hair in my car than trash.


  7. You never disappoint! I could picture every little detail that you wrote. My husband has put the fear of God in me to never use the automatic car washes. He knows of two people who had the sides of their cars scratched the length of the cars. Yikes!


    1. We had the car wash damage the roof of our car and we were in the car when it happened. My husband took his hand and knocked the roof up off of our heads. Roof was a bit wavy, but Gulf Oil had the privilege of repairing it.


  8. I just typed up a long reply, bored myself to death, and deleted it. I’m glad you got those peaches.


  9. Laughed so hard at this – I think I have experienced most of this at one time or another!
    I was so happy when I moved back to the “city” as I could not wait to take my car to a full service car wash.
    Well, rudely, they have closed most of them. But I did fine one close by and I went their with high hopes. I was the only customer – Ahh yes, I should have known that was a big red flag. I found out later they mostly just do “detailing” and I, like a lot of you, have no idea what that really means.
    But I pulled up and two young men came running out. Oops – they said, “well ok, we will get our boss to help out here as neither one of us can drive a stick shift.” Oh yes, I should have left but foolishly stayed. Receptionist was nowhere to be found. Finally she returned and sneered at me as I paid. So the car was finally ready – I left and gave the “boys” a tip.
    When I arrived home I found that their vacuum must have had low suction – cup holders full of fur. Sigh. So, back to the hurricane cleaners where you drive through and then use their free vacuums or just come home and use my own. Another dream busted!
    And now I want some peaches. I love the white ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A detailing is very good cleaning of your car. They will clean everything inside and out and make it shiny and pretty again if it’s not too far gone. I was married to a car dude for thirty-eight years. I also worked at a used car dealer which also had a cheap car rental bussiness. The scum who rented the cars, OY. The poor detailer dude found used condoms in the trunk sometimes, drugs hidden in different places others. Drug dealers get their cars impounded if they get caught dealing so they would “Rent A Wreck” instead. (That was the name of an actual bussiness near the first place my husband and I lived together).


  10. You slay, Juniper. Now i want peaches. Here in México we only have the “let strangers deal with it” type of car wash. Very efficient. I suppose they invented the DiY type just so some men wouldn’t feel completely emasculated by letting others do the job.


    1. Same. I can’t seem to line up the wheels and the tracks right. A smart assed young male attendant was rolling his eyes at me.


  11. Between getting soaked with the hose and being intimidated by my only experience with a self-clean car wash, we must be twins. Our local car wash is a combination stay-in-your car as it rolls along the track while the equipment washes your car and self-vacuuming (not that I vacuum myself) afterwards. The vacuuming is included in the price of the car wash.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At our full service one they put the car on the tracks for you, which I love. You don’t have to stay in the car. They have young women dry it and vaccuum the interior for you. I have to check and see if it is still there. It’s in my old county.
      I would go to the tittie place before I do it myself because I am so mechanically chalanged and I know I would half drown myself. Plus I’m 5′ 2.5″ and it’s an SUV. Do they have ladders?


  12. I have had zero luck at the self service car wash places. One place in Florida stole my money. The local one here cost me a kidney because I was too slow & stupider than the average bear. The custom car wash place charges $25. I wash my car at home and I’m sure the neighbors have a good laugh.
    Great post, Coot!


  13. I can so relate to your ordeal. My theory is that the people who make it seem effortless? On their first time through, they got soaked, soaped, rinsed, and blown dry themselves. Their car? Not so much.

    My tiny town has a drive through, humanless, car wash. Many years ago, when my family lived in the dirt-roads-country, Our car was coated with dried mud from driving during the last big rain. So next time I had to go to town to shop, my first stop was the car wash. I drove up to entrance door (at the other end of the car wash tunnel was the closed exit door), inserted money, drove in as per instructions, and the door behind me closed. The machines started the process. Halfway through the equipment all stopped! Nothing! The brushes were blocking all my car doors and I immediately had images of being found there weeks later. (Maybe sooner if my husband and kids missed me). What to do! I put the car into gear and tried inching forward but my path was blocked by the hungry looking machinery. So I said a little prayer and tried backing up. Hooray! The door behind me opened, so I made my escape! Then I had to do all my shopping that day in a car with a covered-with-dirt-and-mud front half, and a clean looking back half! And yes, the owner of said establishment heard about it and I was given a refund and apology. But husband was given the assignment of cleaning the car next time.


  14. What an ordeal – but, hey! Your car is clean and so cute! That was fun to read even if you didn’t have much fun at the car wash. When I visited my daughter when she lived in So Cal, I would take my car to the “fou-fou car wash” where you just parked it and gave them the keys and they took care of everything. Nothing like that here where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have a tunnel of love style car wash near me, it’s a weird middle ground between the do it yourself and real humans. We still have an old fashioned people wash your car car wash but they always have a guy who simultaneously checks you in and works very hard to upsell you.


  16. Lovely post Coot. I think you need a P.A. to do all these things for you. I hear Erika Janes glam squad and P.A. might be available.

    I bought peaches twice this weekend but only had them on my list once


  17. Yes!
    Another hilarious post. You make me really appreciate our guy that details our car. I don’t have a clue why it’s called detailing a car. Anyway, he does a great job and he works from his home, last time we had the car washed he gave us some vegetables out of his garden.
    I noted the peaches were really important, at the top and bottom of the list.


    1. I just HAD this discussion with Ned. “You could take your car where we take our company cars. They practically detail it.”

      “I’ve never understood what that means. DETAIL it.”

      “It means they detail it.”

      Helpful, Ned.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Maybe because they wash/clean every little thing inside and outside the car. Wild guess on my part. Tell Ned he didn’t answer this most important question.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I wonder if they call it “detailing” because often it’s a business populated by men and they don’t want to call it a car cleaning service because it doesn’t sound manly enough.


    2. They had one of those detailing places in the underground parking at the office building I used to work in. It was very expensive, but you would come down at the end of the day for the commute home and your car would be all fresh and lovely. And there would be cardboard floormats.


      1. Up “north” where I hail from, to detail your car means you do pinstripes or some decorations to jazz up the looks of the car. I’m sure Pam can say it better.
        I didn’t really know that until I moved south.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Back in the 80’s before safety features I got a hankering to wash my car. I put my quarters in but neglected to grab the wand first. That wand flew all around the car wash and whacked me in the head before I caught it with one hand. I just noticed our full service car wash in our town is no more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have more full service car washes than a town of this size probably needs but I still prefer the ones where you get free vacuums. I like to do it myself. We still smile about the time I took my daughter’s car to get it washed. She can be very messy and her car was so full of crap and the remains from fast food purchases that I was scared to open the trunk. My daughter doesn’t even have kids but I thought of Casey Anthony’s mother while I held my breath. The trunk was perfectly clean. I laughed so hard I’m sure people were looking at me. When I told my daughter later, she pointed out that a perfectly clean trunk should be even more suspicious. “Did you smell bleach?”


  19. I like how at the top of the list you buy the peaches then at the end you just get them.


  20. Dear June,

    This was hilariously funny, but now I never want to enter a car wash.


  21. Gosh I loved this car wash saga. My first laugh aloud of the day. Your perseverance amazes me.


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