There are moments in our lives that you stop and think, "I should have definitely experienced this before now." It's hard to imagine that in thirteen years of driving, I could have a completely new experience.
I was driving last week when I heard a commercial on the radio for a car wash special. (My car had been used as target practice the day before by every feces-ridden bird within a five mile radius of our house.) I wasn't too far from the car wash, so I thought I'd swing by.
I pulled up to the car wash and an attendant with hair as straggly and fluffy as the wheel detailer took my payment. ($3.95! What a bargain!) He stood in front of the car and motioned for me to drive in. I preceded in, paying special attention to lining up my wheels. The car started to slowly move forward.
I was just inside the door when I realized that I should probably NOT be in drive. Should I be in park since the car wash chain would pull me? Or maybe neutral? Yeah, I think neutral sounded right. No, drive seemed to be working fine. Why didn't the mop-headed attendant tell me if I had to do anything? Sweating like a nervous Jeopardy contestant, I let my foot sloooowly off the gas petal, just to see what would happen. The car lunged forward about ten feet before I slammed on the brakes.
Whoops. I'll take Stupid Decisions for $600, Alex.
So there I sat in the car wash, embarrassed, concerned, and strangely amused. The fabric flappy things slapped at the car and soap covered the windows as I suddenly heard the muffled yells of the attendant. I looked back through the soapy window to see him standing near the rear and side of the car, hands cupped to his mouth, yelling something. He was trying to swat water away from his face.
Rolling down the window in a car wash has never been on my lifetime "to-do" list, but it has been checked off. I opened the window and the wet, angry strips of fabric slapped me in the face. Water sprayed in all directions and the best I could yell back was, "WHAT?"
He yelled again.
I actually considered for a split second pretending like I understood what he said. Then it dawned on me that perhaps his message would be important.
I stuck my head a little further out of the window. "HUH?"
(Just for the record, there is NO cool way to stick your head out of a window while inside a car wash.)
"PUT THE CAR IN NEUTRAL!" the attendant screamed. I gave him a look like heh, heh, heh, I knew that and I put it in neutral. Then I casually looked back to experience the biggest eye roll in history. I put the window up and tried to regain my composure, using some napkins to wipe my forehead.
Then I just sat there.
I thought that maybe the car attendant hated me so much at this moment that he didn't want me to go any further. Then I thought that perhaps the whole car wash karma was screwed up beyond repair. I imagined him having to shut down the whole thing to rescue my sorry, stupid ass. I could call for help with my cell phone, but could I hear anyone?
Then the car slowly moved forward. I probably waited for thirty seconds, but it seemed like hours.
Car washes are usually so quick they seem like a rip-off, but I couldn't get out of there fast enough. Up until that point, I had only driven into a car wash with a carport and put the car in park when the huge red light told me. I like big red PARK lights.
I looked into the rear-view mirror to see Katie sleeping soundly in her car seat. Luckily she had not witnessed one of her mother's all-time stupid moments, but, honestly, she probably won't have to wait long to see another.