Book Reviews

Breakdown at the Car Wash

The handcuffs were tight. Too tight. A crowd of people had gathered to watch the scene as the officer scribbled in his notepad. Behind me, the sounds of another car being ran through the car wash and workers yelling back and forth to one another continued as if nothing was happening.

The officer glanced at me with raised eyebrows. “So…Billy? Right? Tell me what happened.”

“Like I said,” I glared back. “I brought my car to the car wash, and he refused to wash it. We got in a bit of a debate.”

“Listen sir, with all due respect, we don’t wash golf carts,” the car wash attendant said. He was a rather hefty Hispanic man in a teal shirt with a name badge pinned on his shirt that said, “George.”

“It’s NOT a golf cart!” I yelled back, feeling a rush of heat gather in my cheeks.

The officer and George both glance at me, then each other, and then over at the crushed, cherry red 2020 Vogue E-Car parked on the back of a tow truck. I sigh.

The officer looks down, scribbling some more in his notepad, corners of his mouth twitching. It’s a few moments before he speaks again. I imagine he’s trying to insure an objective tone in his voice. I’m on to him.

“So, they advised that they couldn’t wash your…” the officer glances at the remains of my vehicle, “…car, and then what happened?”

Looking down at my feet, I drew a line in the gravel with the toe of my sneaker.

“I need you to understand, I’ve had a really bad day.” I said.

The officer shifts his weight. George snorts and glances over his shoulder, the sunlight catching on his sunglasses.

“Uh huh,” The officer replied, waiting for me to continue.

“Okay. So this is what happened. That man refused to wash my car-“

“Golf cart,” George inserts.

“My car.” I say firmly, with a fierce squint at George. “So we were in a hot debate. I felt like I was being treated unfairly.”

“The machine isn’t built for golf carts,” George begins again, but stops when the officer raises his hand.

“Keep going,” the policeman says to me.

“And anyhow,” I restart, a little more slowly as I edge closer to the part of the story I don’t want to tell. I begin dragging my toe in the gravel again. “So, I got rather heated. You know, I had been having this really bad day already…and I know my car. I know it can make it through that car wash just like any other car. So, I demonstrated.”

“You demonstrated?” More scribbling on the notepad.

Looking off into the horizon and bobbing my head, I gave my confirmation.

“Yes, demonstrated.”

“This crazy man jumped in his golf cart and began driving it through the car wash. He ran over an attendant’s foot, and then got his golf cart stuck in the machine while he was inside the vehicle. We had to shut down the entire car wash for over an hour, while waiting for the towing company and the fire department to pry his “car” out of our machine. Then we had to standby and watch while they used the jaws of life to pry him from what was left of the vehicle. Frankly, he’s lucky all the damage was to his “car” and not to our machine!”

A bulbous vein bulged from the side of George’s neck as he shook a finger at me. Up until that moment, he had seemed like a timid, patient man, but this outburst proved otherwise. I was on to him too.

“Well maybe if you had helped me rather than forcing me to wash my own damn car!” I quipped back.

George lunged forward, stopped by the officer’s quick interception.

“Whoa now,” the officer’s calm voice cut through the building tension. “Thank you, George. I will take it from here.”

With another angry glance at me, George turns and leaves.

Putting his notepad away, the officer crosses his arm and looks thoughtfully into the horizon. He pulls an apple out of a pouch and takes a bite, chewing loudly as a grin climbs up to his eyes.

“Well, son. I don’t know what happened during the rest of your day, but this sure put the icing on the cake.”

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