Most Wanted at the Car Wash


"I am innocent!"
I know.
That's what criminals always say.
But in my case, it's true.
I know.
They say that too.
But really, I am.
I just wanted my car to sparkle again.
I had a master plan.
I was going to pull into the drive through and let the spinning brushes with soap and water spit shine the outside.
And then I was going to stop over at the vacuum section and suck the ever-loving insides out.
That is why I had a bag of quarters stuffed in the secret compartment.
I pulled up to the kiosk and slid in my card.
I selected the big Kahuna. It was the button next to the apology for the rise in price to eleven dollars.
"Please pull ahead," said the man in the machine.
So, I did.

I was aimed between the rails on each side and was looking at the sign ahead that is supposed to change from drive forward to stop.
A light spray of water began to spray from the floor as I crept in.
There was an awful screeching sound.
Like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Apparently, my left side tires were rubbing against the rail.
I couldn't continue forward.
I was stuck.
I had to back out.
I put her into reverse and backed out.
I made another run at the thing.
And the same thing happened.
And then again.
Finally, I made it to the sweet spot.
But nothing happened.
"Hmmm," I thought.
So, I pulled through the open doorway past the blowers and drove around the little building.
And I drove in again.
"Well, son of a bitch."
But I was in a good mood.
The kind of a good mood that is not to be spoiled.
You see, I was leaving for vacation the very next day.
I was going on a two-week road trip with my sweet Sven.
I didn't care.
I let the nasty little kiosk keep my eleven dollars.
I drove over and into one of the manual stalls.
And the manual wash only costs a dollar seventy-five.
"Oh. Hang on. It's three seventy-five now. Holy moly. I guess it's been a while since I washed my car myself."
I plunked the quarters in the slot and turned the dial to wash.
I circled my Rav4 with the fire house hose.
It was fun.
I pointed the dial to the rinse triangle.
I prefer the regular rinse first.
And the light rinse last.
The regular rinse turned from clear water to white and sudsy when I reached driver side of the car.
"What the hell!"
And then the dial began to beep over yonder.
It was the thirty second warning.
I was running out of time.
I yanked the hose to the other side, stuffed it in its cradle, grabbed some more quarters and began plugging the machine just in the nick of time.
I spun the dial all the way around and set it on rinse again.
But soap was still shooting out of the hose.
Something to my left caught my eye.
It was the scrub brush.
I never use the scrub brush.
Soap was billowing out of the bucket the scrub brush sits in.
The entire stall was turning into a bubble dispensary.
It wouldn't stop.
But you know what?
It was fine.
I was not about to be swayed into a bad mood on account of a stupid car wash situation that was clearly getting out of hand.
I got into my suds mobile and pulled over to the big vacuum, leaving the stall with a life of its own doing its thing.
All I needed was fifty cents for the vacuum.
"What? It's a dollar seventy-five now?"
Well, I only had fifty cents left in my stash of quarters.
"It's not big deal. Nothing to get worked up about, Millie."
I split the scene.
Yes, soap was still shooting out of stall number two.
And I am guessing the automatic car wash still had some issues.
And then.
Well, my lawyer says that the fact that I raced across several state lines in the following days made it look like I was on the run.
Like I was a fugitive.
I told him it wasn't my fault that the posted speed limit out west is eighty.
"They say you were pushing ninety," he said.
"Everybody was doing it!" I yelled.
I was just on vacation.
It was just a road trip.
I am innocent.
I swear.
And now that I am home, I would really like to wash all the bugs and shit off my car.
It is a disaster,
But Sven said not to go near the car wash.
He heard there is a poster with my picture on it hanging there.

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