Tuesday, April 02, 2013

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

I suppose this falls under the category "it sounded like a good idea at the time."  Having just arrived home from a journey to Richmond, Virginia, to help my father-in-law celebrate his 80th birthday, and after completing our Easter services at church and visiting with my family throughout the afternoon on Sunday, I began preparing for my wife's return from her father's yesterday evening.  That should not take too long.  There is only one of me.  Only one to leave dirty laundry laying around.  Only one to jam empty foam cups into the trash can.  Only one to forget to turn off lights.  Only one to pull every chair out from the table, kick every rug into an unmanageable heap, and lose the remote controls that run our little kingdom.  Before I tackled any of those jobs I went ahead and broke the garage door opener.  Because ... you know ... it had been working for a long time.  It needed a break.  (Play on words totally intentional.)   And besides, I had already broken the garbage disposal before Debbie left.

I straightened up as best I could and then paused to consider what I could do that would really say a heart-felt, "Welcome Home!"  I remembered that our Trailblazer had spent a rainy few days on the long-term parking lot at the airport while I was gone.  It really looked like it too.  It was dirty before we left.  Now it was dirty, wet, and covered with what I can only assume was jet exhaust.  Think of the brownie points I could rack up  if she had a clean car to go to work in on Tuesday morning.  Besides, it was past time for my mid-day caffeine dump.  So I hit the road, grabbed a cold 32 ounces at the local quick mart, and headed off to the car wash emporium.

After depositing nine dollars into the little robotic kiosk and making the appropriate selection from the video screen I drove forward until the offensive "HOOOOONK"  sounded, indicating that I should stop right there and not move forward one more inch and if I did horrible things would happen to me and the generations to come after me.  I slipped it into park, reclined my seat, and waited for the show to begin.  (It's no accident that a car wash and a ticket to a movie theatre are roughly the same.)  The first part is always best.  This huge metal want goes over the car shooting multi-colored soap foam all over the place.  I love to watch it splat against the windshield, melting all the bug guts away.

But.  It wasn't to be.  The soap sprayed as far as the windshield and stopped.  Huh?  The "The Octopus Monsters" began working their way down the side of my car.  They spin and spin and spin awesome little cloth thingys (technical term) up and down the car getting it all clean and spiffy.  But, no.  Not this time.  The Octo-Monsters came as far as the side rear view mirrors and then went back to where they had come from.  But they didn't stop there either.  They looped around in front of the car and ... stopped.  I mean, they didn't stop spinning.  They just stopped moving around the car.  And they sat there.  And I sat there.  I raised my seat.  I glared at them menacingly.  Still, they just sat there.  And then the man made rain opened up.  Water was shooting all over the place.  It was torrential.  But my little friendly monsters just sat there spinning their tentacles.  They were laughing at me.  I swear they were.

This went on for maybe five minutes.  I prayed.  That didn't work.  (I guess I used all my pent-up prayer power on Easter.)  I yelled at the machine.  Yes, I was reduced to yelling at an inanimate object.  I turned around and for the first time in my life there was no car in line behind me.  There is ALWAYS a car back there.  And he's always impatient.  And I always feel guilty for getting the long nine dollar wash instead of the quicker seven dollar wash.  But today ... he's not there.

I think that's when it occurred to me that my life could end right here and nobody would know until maybe Memorial Day.  ("Hey.  Anybody know what happened to dad?"  "I saw him on Easter.  He was fine."  "Well, it's June.  Should we be worried?"  "Nah.  He'll be fine.  He's just 'pulling a Bailey.'") On the next nice holiday they would find my decimated, decaying remains right here under the steering wheel.  This isn't the way I dreamed I would go out...

In a flash of insight I grabbed my smart phone and googled, "Moto Mart."  And I clicked "Locations."  There it was!  The phone number!  I quickly touched the link and after a ring or two a cheery voice came on the line.  "Greenmount Moto Mart!  Can I help you?"

"Yes!  Thank God!  I'm stuck in your car wash!"


Yes.  I swear they hung up on me.  Why in the world would they hang up on me?

I hit the link again.  "Greenmount Moto Mart!  Can I help you?"

"Why did you hang up on me?  I"m stuck in your car wash."

"Well, sure you are.  And happy April Fools to you too!"

Click.  Aww geez.  It's April 1st.  And I'm stuck in a car wash.  And nobody believes me.  And God isn't answering prayer today.

One more time.  I hit the link.  "Greenmount Moto Mart!  Can I help you?"

"Listen carefully.  I know it is April Fools day.  But I am not fooling you.  I.  AM.  STUCK.  IN.  YOUR.  CAR.  WASH."

"Are you serious?"


"Uhhh.  That's never happened before."

"Well, it's happening now."

"I'll be right out."

Another two minutes passed before Ms. Cheery looked down the car wash at me from the far end.  It was obvious that this problem was above her pay grade.  It took ten minutes and two more employees to turn the water off and force Octo-Monster away from my car.  As I drove out Mary Poppins was waiting for me.

"If you will just go around to the front we will run you through again!"

"I want my nine dollars back."

"Are you sure?  Your car is still dirty."

"I'm sure."

"Oh.  Okay."

There is much to be said for a dirty car.  It is a badge of courage of sorts.  It says, "I've been down the road and I won."

And I think I'll leave it just like it is.