It was a day that started like any other.
I awoke without much on my mind; no pressing commitments to attend to that day, no personal matters that needed to be taken care of. My mind was free and I was unhindered from worries.
Seeing that the day was mine and time was insignificant, I decided to take a detour from my regular routine and take my car for a much needed cleaning through one of the many car washes that lined the street near my home.
I had the luxury of going to any one of them. Still, I chose the one I had been to many times before, One where I felt comfortable and at home. One where I felt safe.
Seeing it was a weekday and others had more serious commitments than the luxury of sitting in their cars while the wonders of technology took care of the often unwelcome job of car washing, I found no lines of dirty vehicles, engines running, owners waiting impatiently for the next bay to become available. In fact, there was no one there as I approached.
There were two bays for machine operated car washing, but only one available as the one was being serviced. Still it mattered not. I was alone, I had all the time I needed. The car wash was my oyster.
I casually drove up to the machine where payment was to be made and studied my choices.
There was the Express Wash for those in a hurry. That wasn’t me. There was the Regular Wash, where the basics of the traditional car wash could be accessed. Hmm. Then there was the Supreme Wash, where your car could, in essence, receive an automobile’s version of a day at a spa.
I was tempted to go with the third, after all, my car deserved it. It had worked hard over the last several years in getting me to my destinations.
I decided on the regular wash. It was really a matter of economics.
I inserted my debit card, made my selection and a voice encouraged me to drive straight ahead as the doors to the bay magically opened.
Once inside, my car’s tires securely cradled in the grooves that made the car wash come to life, I sat back, turned up the radio a bit (sixties classic rock if you must know) and enjoyed the show.
Soon my car was engulfed with a soapy water as the mechanical arm moved back and forth. Then came the rinse administered the same way. I enjoyed the display as a calmness washed over me (pun intended).
Soon, too soon, the show was over. The water stopped, the drying blower came on and the doors opened. It was time to leave and let another, with plenty of time on his hands, to take my place.
I put my transmission into drive and slowly began to inch forward, determined to take in every last second of my adventure.
Suddenly, the blower stopped and the exit doors closed just inches from the hood of my car.
I knew from past experience that this wasn’t part of the regular car wash package.
I sat there as the silence surrounded me, waiting for the expected sequence of the machinery to kick back in.
Nothing! I was trapped.
It is strange the thoughts that rapidly pass through your mind in such an unexpected situation.
How long would I be trapped here? How long could I survive? Sure, there was plenty of water, but food was another story entirely.
I had to seek help.
I opened the car door and stepped out into the unfamiliar terrain of the bowels of the car wash. I cautiously moved towards the door, hoping not to trip a sensor that would turn a flood of soapy water on myself.
What was seconds seemed like minutes as I made it to the door and loudly knocked on the plastic window.
“IS ANYONE THERE?” I yelled, possibly in vain.
No answer. A chill ran through my spine. It could be hours before anyone else with a leisurely day to spend might come use the car wash.
Then the door began to open, pushed upward by the guy servicing the other bay.
‘Sorry,” he said, matter of fact. “Been having problems.”
He walked to the front and pushed a button and the exit door opened.
I slid back into my car, not even questioning the lack of dryer time I was given. I stepped on the gas. I just wanted out of this oyster.
The rest of the day I spent in reflection and grateful for the things I had.
I drove by other cars and noticed the faces of the drivers, taking everything for granted, confident that there day will go as planned.
I, on the other hand, had a new view on life.
Especially the part about the car wash.