Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Workin' at the Carwash

From out of nowhere this Wednesday evening, I found a spurt of energy, so I took full advantage of it and vacuumed my car, then took it to the car wash, where I got rid of nearly 3,000 miles' worth of bugs, and finally came home and waxed it.

I remember going with Dad to wash the 1967 Pontiac, the blue one that I sometimes still have odd little dreams of finding in my garage! How times have changed! And not just the price of the wash, though that is certainly different, too. In 1970s Alta Vista, there was one car wash, under a lean-to roof behind the laundry. It was a dirty little spot because of the mud and water endemic to a car wash. I don't remember how much the car wash cost, but I'm thinking probably 25 cents got a car fairly clean. Then Dad took a couple of paper towels and wiped it off. The wash had two settings: wash (soapy) and rinse. Only one car at a time, thank you very much!

Later, when I was old enough to have my own vehicle, I had a 1973 Ford F-100 pickup, also blue, but with a white top. Odd now to think of how enjoyable washing that truck was! I'd spend an afternoon in the backyard with the hose from the house and a bucket of soapy water. It was probably dish soap, I'd guess. The pride of first ownership does wonders for car care!

I continued to enjoy cleaning my cars, from the brand new 1980 Chevy LUV pickup I got for high school graduation (Mom paid for it, and I paid her back--slowly--over the next few years) to the 1990 Dodge Daytona I bought after my divorce, and the 1954 Chevy I bought from a friend, but never could get to run very reliably. I owed the last two at the same time, and liked the look of the two clean vehicles, the red Dodge and the light blue Chevy, sitting in the driveway.

Now, though, car washing seems just a chore, a drudgery. I know it's good for the finish, and I still like looking at a clean car. The car wash has changed dramatically. There are several here in Salina, all with multiple self-service bays, and one drive-through bay. I don't use the drive through very often, since I think it's expensive and doesn't do a very good job. It certainly didn't get those Utah trip bugs off my car as well as the self-service wash did tonight. The settings are presoak, soap, clearcoat, foaming brush, rinse, and spot-free rinse. (This is a misnomer if ever I've seen one. Just try driving off without drying the car and see how "spot free" it is.) A token costs $1.00 just to get the water and soap flowing. If you're fast, and your car isn't very dirty, you might be able to give it a decent rinsing for that $1.00, but I used $3.00 tonight.

When did washing my car become a chore, something to dread? I think part of the change started with my living in apartments, because of the lack of access to a hose like we had in the backyard in Alta Vista. Now I have to drive somewhere and pay for the wash. Also, my current car, a little 2005 Pontiac Vibe, just seems more like transportation than a car! I enjoy driving it, but the thrill of just getting in a vehicle and driving for the fun of it is as long gone as $1.00 per gallon gas. I like my Vibe for the 30-31 miles per gallon it gets, but I have sacrificed the zip I had in the Dodge, for instance.

And maybe it's age, too . . . I think my back's going to be aching tomorrow, thanks to all the bending I did tonight! The thrill is gone, but the obligation to keep a possession protected remains.

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