Friday, February 08, 2008

The Serpent at the Carwash: A Most Embarrassing Moment

This morning I happened upon a favorite site, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and noticed a sort contest for Most Embarrassing Moment with 2,993 responses overnight. That site, and it's companion, Pioneer Woman Cooks both are quite entertaining although occasionally a bit earthier than I'd prefer.

Anyway, I didn't make the deadline for submitting my little story at 9:00 pm, Pacific Time. But hey, there's nothing stopping me from sharing it here with you! Many of the entries there involve bodily function or clothing malfunctions - and we've all been there, haven't we? So my story is quite different, about an adventure at the carwash.

If you have ever had an embarrassing moment, please share it. Or, I should say, please feel free to share one appropriate for polite company. And considering the nature of this blog, stories involving travel or cross-cultural experiences will be a great match.

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The Serpent at the Carwash: A Most Embarrassing Moment

Late one snowy evening in a land far away, I was returning home from some fancy function dressed to the hilt in my new black coat with raccoon collar and high-heeled boots. Problem was, my new Chevy Cavalier was a salty mess from the sloppy roads and I decided that cleaning it could wait not one minute longer.

Lucky me, I happened upon a spray-jet car wash, no lines and no waiting. The floor was a frozen slab of ice but I’d be careful. I fed a handful of quarters into the coin slot and started with the foaming brush, washing through the grime to the enamel, metallic sable, they called it. I had still managed to be ladylike, keep my hands clean and remain upright. So far so good.

Next for the high pressure wash. The wand had been left on the ground by the previous customer and, because in those days I was keen on time and motion management, rather than retrieving the wand and retracing my steps to the control panel, I simply turned the control to high pressure spray as I headed toward the wand.

To my absolute horror, before I reached it, the spray wand sprang to life, not unlike a snake – a cobra, perhaps – writhing back and forth as if charged by high voltage electricity.

It whipped from side to side between the wall and the car, pummeling the car door and spraying water everywhere. Subduing that evil serpent was no easy task but eventually it was I who stood triumphant, sort of, soapy water dripping off my hair and nose.

I looked around ever so casually, hoping-hoping-hoping that no one waiting at the nearby stoplight had observed my gyrations. I glanced at the car door, now dimpled and felt absolutely sick.

In a quantum leap of logic, I imagined being observed by a bus full of Japanese tourists waiting at the stoplight there in Warren, Ohio. I could hear the tour director with her narration, And now ladies and gentleman, on the left we have a popular American innovation, the do-it-yourself carwash. Look, even now a young lady is there washing her car. Oh my. Poor dear, she seems to be having some difficulty.

Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t judge all American women by the one you see here. As for this young lady, I understand that alternative plans are in place. We hope to send her to a land far, far away. To Russia perhaps. And there she can use public transport and never again will we have to worry about her abusing a car at the carwash.

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Okay, now it's your turn. What adventure or misadventure have you brought upon yourself over the years. . . ;)

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