Car wash

I’m sure you’ve been to a car wash. And if you haven’t, you should.

Car wash is a majestic place. Suspension starts building up from the moment you punch in a code. The preparation is a process in itself, almost a ritual. There is an attendant waving you in, making sure you don’t scratch your tires or rims. You keep driving up until he orders you stop, and mimes to you the steps you need to follow. Windows up, car in neutral, don’t touch the steering… I never know how to interact with the attendant at that point- do I mime thank you in response? Or do I nod? Or should I actually roll down the window, verbally acknowledge the fella and quickly roll it back up? At this point the rail picks up the car, and you feel like you completely lost control, almost a sense of zero gravity. And the real action begins.

All mechanical parts, moving in perfect harmony, their movements so precise that no harm should ever befall on your precious vehicle. Here’s a symmetrical set of side brushes, their not so friendly but firm advancements towards you and your passenger, only to stop inches away from your faces, so that they could attend to the sanitary needs of your doors. And then there is a center brush, ominously approaching the car, and it’s as if it knows exactly when to start inching up and rolling over the hood until finally disappearing somewhere over your head. You can hear the soft, cozy sounds of bristles against the body and suddenly the whole experience isn’t so scary. The sprinklers add to the joy with their multi-color expressions, and the foam engulfs you completely into the sense of serenity – you and your car are safe in capable mechanical, programmable hands.

And at that moment, when you are finally relaxed and happily observing the fresh water come over your entire body and wash away the suds, when you can make out a street light ahead of you, still red but ready as you are to turn green any minute now, and the dryers have deployed their lungs, you look to your left and through the water streaming down and vapor you see some guy standing there, absentmindedly, not even looking at you or your car but more like looking around, and the thought crosses your mind: “What the hell is this guy doing there???” It’s always so sudden that you involuntarily shudder. The vapor adds to the mystery in that the guy looks distorted, hard to make out his features or gestures. Your paranoid mind starts likening him to Freddy Kruger who wasn’t a stranger to vapor himself. And you realize that all this was just a show, mechanical precision, pretty colors and cozy foam. “It’s a trap”, your mind quickly registers, and at that point the rail actually slows down. Freddy the attendant continues standing there, and all your claustrophobic neurons jump into action. And just as soon as you reach the mixed state of “can it be” and “come on, be a man”, the dryers give way to open doors and you see the daylight again.

Whew. Adios Freddy and mechanical monsters, I’ve escaped your grip once again!

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