Ponderings at the Car Wash


After my car received $700 worth of repairs and services today, I was given a coupon for a free car wash. Anything free after a $700 bill sounded fantastic to me. I headed straight over to the car wash. After a long winter, my Focus was coated with dirt and salt streaks, and after its various surgeries, she deserved a spa treatment.

Getting the wheels lined up on the track to go into the car wash is always a source of great stress for me. The car wash guy stands there, gesturing frantically. Left? Right? Steer? Stop steering? His hands beckon to move forward, then one raises in an adamant stop signal while the other one wiggles fingers to entice you forward. Is there anything more contradictory than the hand signals of a car wash operator? What’s worse is that you can’t very well open the window to get some verbal instructions, seeing as you are about to coast into the car wash and get blasted at high speeds with jets of water and soap. I find myself yelling out questions: What? Over here? Am I on the track now? Will you drive it through for me? Will you tell the guy behind me to move so I can back up and get the hell out of here? Of course, all the car wash guy can see is my red face and my mouth twisting around. He turns the hose on the car, imagining with great pleasure, I suspect, that he’s blasting me with it. But after those initial minutes of torture, the tire is on the track. I throw it into neutral and fall back against the seat as my vehicle inches forward, leaving the car wash guy thankfully behind me.

As I progressed through the car wash today, I found myself feeling oddly sad. My kids used to love going through the car wash when they were small–it was adventure at its finest. The pink and green foamy soap would hit the windows and the four of them would holler and exclaim in the back seat. Those rubber fringe things would drop down and flop all over the car–they may as well have been the sinister fingers of aliens as far as the kids were concerned. The shrieking and the carrying on! And the worrying. “Mommy, what if we get stuck? Mommy, what would happen if I rolled the window down? Mommy, would you die if you walked through the car wash? Mommy, would that wind blow your clothes off? Mommy, what if the power goes out when we’re in the middle?” When we got through to the end unscathed, they would cheer. And ask if we could do it again.

So there I sat today, alone in the car wash, all those pretty foamy colours blasting against the windows and making gooey patterns as they melted down, and no little voices to oooh and ahhh. Jettisons of water hitting the car and making a roaring sound, and no squealing from the back seat. The loud blast of wind hitting from all sides, flattening the water drops on the windshield. No one yelling. No one asking, remarking, cheering.

Who would have thought a car wash could be such a lonely place?

I wonder if there are others like me, with grown children, whose hearts drop a little when they see a dad pushing a squealing toddler in a swing? A mom leaning forward to nose-nose with a little passenger sitting in the child seat of a grocery cart? A parent walking hand in hand down the street with a little person wearing a back pack that’s as big as he is?

Maybe, this is the little empty space that people my age hit before grandchildren arrive.

Are grandchildren do-overs? If so, I’m in.


The Laundry Bike

laundry bike

Technology can be a great thing and offers amazing enhancements for our daily lives–smart appliances in our homes that free up time for other pursuits, items that enhance our productiveness at our jobs, gizmos that open up lines of communication that stretch around the globe, medical technology that extends our lives and improves our health, tools that allow for new dimensions in creativity and expression…the list is endless.

However, the down-side of technology is that is sometimes fails. When it does, it is never at a convenient time. The smart board in a classroom goes down during a lesson. The cell phone falls onto the floor and breaks. The hard drive corrupts and fails.

The clothes dryer stops spinning in the middle of a dirty laundry explosion.

In spite of the fact that what used to be six residents has dwindled to four in my house, I still seem to be amply blessed with endless loads of laundry. Three seasons out of the year, I am quite religious about hanging all that wet laundry outside on the line. I like the fact that I am doing something positive for the environment, I like the smell of sun and wind-dried clothing and linens, and I like the savings on my hydro bill. However, Canadian winters force me into using the dryer during long months of rain, sleet and snow. The monotone hum and spin and then the blaring of the buzzer that marks the end of the cycle are the constant soundtrack to the daily life of this house. The dryer often runs through the night too, when we’re all tucked up in our beds (it’s cheaper to run in the middle of the night).

The dryer died quietly in the middle of a week-day afternoon. It had been languishing for a week or so–it hummed for a minute or two before it decided to go ahead and spin. Finally, it flat-out refused to move at all. My husband took it all apart and shook his head. Time of death, 5:04 p.m.

Fortunately, I have an “appliance guy.” He is so trustworthy and knowledgeable that there is no need whatsoever to go into a store and shop. I tell him what I need and he finds me the best deal he can get and it’s all done over the phone. One time, he even stuck my new dishwasher in his car and delivered it personally so I wouldn’t have to pay a delivery charge.

So I gave my appliance guy a call and he found something for me that was quite satisfactory and a reasonable price. The only flaw was that the new dryer would not be arriving for a week.

Friends and family have offered kindly to dry my family’s clothes. My appliance guy offered his own dryer. They are all inordinately kind, but they do not realize the impact their offer would have on their hydro bills. Fortunately, I have found a simple solution, and it doesn’t involve dragging baskets of wet laundry out into the cold and driving it any where.

I have a laundry bike (see above picture).

Other edges and surfaces work well, too. I just spread, hang and drape the wet laundry all over the basement. It doesn’t have that fresh-air smell, but the towels are nice and scratchy, just like when I hang them out on the clothesline.

My system is working so well that my husband questions why we even need a new dryer at all.

If I wanted to live like a Victorian laundress, I would agree with him. However, since the dryer option is available to me, I think I will elect to make the laundry bike a temporary fix.