until today i had only ever washed my car once. 3 years and one car wash. just one. it didn’t seem to be a problem what with the occasional snow in dc. and now with the constant rain in seattle i thought that i was off the hook.
let’s face it, my car isn’t the newest on the block. my 1995 nissan altima was purchased for $500. the front bumper jaggedly juts out but that wasn’t my fault. both sides show the marks of being keyed, while naively parked in crystal city. there is a tiny dink in the windshield that happened as i drove along canal rode hugging the potomac. from the driver’s seat i can control all windows but the passenger’s and the radio has seen better days. when one speaker drifts out of service another swoops in giving me a surround sound feel. i’ve learned that i can sometimes hold the “clock” button in to jump start both speakers, but this trick only works for about a minute.
this particular model has a sun roof, but i have never enjoyed that feature. it long ago ceased to open up to the sunshine. but during heavy rain storms, moisture will seap into a crack somewhere up there and drip down on the emergency brake. if i’m turning, water will delicately spray the front two seats.
about two months ago our women’s organization at church had a service auction. individual talents were put to work and everything from homemade bread to baby quilts were offered. i paid no attention to these novelties and instead lept to my feet at the call of “1 car wash & vacuum.” i figured it was about time.
as the weeks passed i put off fulfilling my free car wash and vacuum. in those weeks my car as suceeded in attracting every possible thing from the sky. it’s covered in a sappy, sticky film from the pollen, cherry blossoms once pink and twigs stick to the film. driving to work today i realized just how bad my car looked and i was actually embarrassed to be driving it. i decided to cash in on my car wash. i made plans for it this weekend. but the more and more i thought about driving my filthy car the more and more embarrassed i was to have someone else clean it.
so during lunch i drove to the nearest gas/car wash and and got the cheapest option. my car was in neutral and i was enveloped by enormous foam tendrils. sudsy, soap covered the car and for a small moment i was terrified, claustrophobic and alone. the muted quiet reminded me of diving underwater and still hearing friends talk above. there was a break in the phobia as my drenched car emerged from the ringer. through a water streaked window i saw a large hispanic boy waiting with white towels. one last step before i reached him. the rinse cycle.
i could hear the powerful jets and felt them rock the car so slightly. and then water was seaping into my car on me. the forever broken sunroof was the culprit, saturating the front seats and my whole right side with water. there was no escape. i was trapped and realizing that i laughed.
the young man drying my car said in a thick accent, “didn’t you close it?” as he gestured to my sunroof. close it? i’ve never even been able to open it! that’s probably something that shouldn’t have taken me three years to discover.