As you remember from a few weeks ago, (click here for Part 1 of the story) my hubby and I had a disastrous trip to the car wash. We’d tried using the car wash vacuum cleaner, which failed to suck up the dirt in our SUV and instead spit out trash from the vacuum’s other end. And then I thought I noticed some movement at the optometrist’s window next door ….
[Flashback: We stood in the hot sun, staring at the machine for five minutes more, debating whether it really sucked or not, and then I noticed a slight movement at Dr. Brian’s window. I peered through my sunglasses—which unfortunately do not fit over the new glasses Dr. Brian sold me—and wondered if we were being watched. But since my new glasses were not sitting on my nose and instead were hooked into the top button of my blouse so I wouldn’t lose them, everything looked blurry. I chalked up the feeling to paranoia.
Still … just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t watching you.]
I gave up trying to figure it out, climbed back into the car, and we drove to the car wash tunnel’s entrance. After three failed attempts on a Visa card—one with enough credit to buy a car dealership—we put in cash and the tunnel gave the green light. We moved forward, hitting the little thingy at the end that's designed to stop a person from driving through the car wash and into the wall on the other side. Not that I would know from experience about driving into cement walls.
With a whir and a clang, the machine started chunk-a-chunking its way toward its first cleaning location, our rear bumper. Suddenly, the car started rocking like a boat in a poorly directed, B movie.
“Earthquake!” I yelled, wondering how you flee a car wash when it's falling on your head.
Clunk! The machine stopped. Mysteriously enough, so did the rocking. I looked through the back window to see colorful strips of whirly-washer cloth still clinging to the rear glass, and the machine now seemed a little too intimate with the SUV’s rear bumper.
Panic set in. The whirly-washer had us by the bumper in back and the metal thingy held us in its grasp in front. How were we going to get out?
Before I had a chance to hyperventilate, Russ said, “The car wash seems broken.”
Duh. Do ya think? Those weren’t the most helpful words he’d ever spoken, and I decided I was glad we’d never taken a trip on the Titanic. He’d have been the kind to say, “Oh look, an iceberg. Is it possible we’ll hit it?”
Russ paused, and rather than wait for more words of wisdom to come pouring forth from his lips, I searched under the seat, hoping to find a paper bag to breathe into. Instead I found a stale chocolate chip cookie and a rubber band. Starvation seemed a real possibility so I ate the cookie for sustenance, and then put the rubber band around my head and snapped it a few times.
Russ started laughing. “What are you doing? You have red marks all over your forehead.”
“It's a distraction technique. I'm doing it so I won’t hyperventilate, because in case you haven't noticed ...." I paused for emphasis. "We’re trapped in a car wash!”
At that moment, a sign on the wall caught my attention: If car wash breaks down, push this button to release your vehicle’s tires.
I couldn’t believe it—an escape button! I jumped out of the car; water drizzled onto me but I managed to make it over to the button without slipping on the wet concrete and breaking my cumber-bum.
Once … twice … three times I jabbed at the button, but nothing happened. As I was about to scream for help, I noticed another button, just below it. “Don’t worry,” I yelled to Russ, as soapsuds from the machine plopped onto my head. “I was pushing the wrong button. This one will do it!”
Knowing our dilemma was solved, I hit the second button. A hydraulic burst of air—strong enough to blow the hair off my head—blasted through the tunnel, along with a loud whoosh, as the Plexiglas door at the end slid down, closing the exit.
Russ rolled down his window and looked at me. “I’m glad you and I were never on the Titanic together.” He opened the passenger’s side for me. “The whirly-washer moved out of the way when the door came down. Climb in and I’ll back the car out.”
As we did, I looked over toward Dr. Brian’s office, and there on the concrete retaining wall—not more than 5 feet away—stood Dr. Brian and his assistant, Mr. Kevin. I ripped the rubber band off, hoping they hadn't noticed.
“Hi there,” I said, doing my best to look nonchalant despite the fact that I had red streaks all over my forehead, and we were backing the car out of the car wash.
“Do you need any help?” Dr. Brian offered. Then he looked over at Mr. Kevin, and I swear I saw a trace of a grin as he continued, “We’ve been sitting in the office watching you, and now we’re wondering why your car is wet, but still dirty, and why you’re backing it out.”
I didn’t know quite how to explain, so finally said, “The vacuum cleaner didn’t suck, then the car wash tried to eat our SUV, then I pushed the wrong button and it closed the door, then—”
Dr. Brian said, “You know what? Never mind; don’t try to explain.”
And as they walked away, I'm pretty certain I heard Dr. Brian whisper to Mr. Kevin, “Remind me never to go on a cruise with them. I’m afraid it would end up like the Titanic.”
Ever wanted to kill your spouse because he/she keeps interrupting something you're trying to do? If so, you'll get a charge out of Cindy's latest published story, "Texting on Ice" in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hooked on Hockey.