Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Washing a Clean Car

At the gas station, I noticed a sleek-looking black SUV at the pump next to mine. It caught my eye because it was so shiny! so black! so cool!

My car was a disaster, having recently driven through one of those rare and terrible storms wherein greasy mud rains from the sky and dead bugs glom onto the windshield in groups of approximately four million. So when "Do You Want a Carwash Today?" popped up on the gas pump screen, I quickly pushed the "yes!" button. How convenient! Fill up the gas tank then drive through the handy car wash. All clean! All new! Perhaps my filthy deep-green dented and pock-marked van would come out of the carwash reincarnated as a trendy black SUV. Even if no miracle occurred, I was giddy that I would leave this place with a clean car - something I don't always have the time or money, -but especially the time- to procure.

Can you picture this? You've seen Charlie Brown shows so you know the Pigpen character. That's my van: Pigpen. Everywhere I drive, there is a little dust cloud hovering around my van. It is dirty far more often than it is clean. Sometimes it is so hard to see out of the windshield that I can't swear I haven't run over any pedestrians. And... no joke... the rabbit guts from the terrible "Rabbit Slaughter Incident of 2013" are still visible on the right rear brake light.

I drive the whole mess over to the carwash lane and I'm singing a hymn, "Come to the Water."
This is a spiritual experience, full of meaning. I'm bringing the filthy van to the waters of renewal. My van will emerge a different van, and I, the driver - a different driver. With a clean car, all things are possible. Maybe if I can achieve a clean car I can achieve success in all areas of life. My singing is louder now, and I turn the corner behind the gas station - eyes on the entrance to the carwash and there in front of me... is the sleek black SUV. My singing stops.

This is a sure sign of an out-of-whack society: a frazzled housewife in a monumentally soiled minivan waiting in the carwash line behind a woman with an immaculately clean car, trendy mini-dress, designer heels, and supermodel hair.

What was she doing there? What kind of joke was being played?

Come on, lady! You're raising the standard impossibly high. You're telling me I have to get my car washed even before it gets dirty!?!

This story would be much more satisfying if I had gotten out of my van and given "Perfection Lady" the what-for. If I had lectured her about spending her time more wisely than on washing a clean car. If I had obtained the name of her hairdresser. But that wasn't going to happen. I was wearing my pajamas, after all. I can't just hop out of the mud-caked driver's-side door and waltz up to a complete stranger to give her life advice. I have my dignity.

I waited patiently as she punched in her car wash code, climbed back into her vehicle, and proceeded into the car wash. While the soap and brushes skimmed across her perfect paint, a few more bugs committed suicide on my windshield and I watched them die. And in my mind, the music played:

And let all who toil,
let them come to the water.
And let all who are weary,
let them come to the Lord:
all who labor, without rest.
How can your soul find rest,
except for the Lord?

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