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.
“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.