Minute Car Wash Blues
I think the late Jim Croce had a song about Working at the Car Wash Blues. Pardon me if I don’t sing it.
When I was a “walking teenager” (before driver’s license age of 16) some of us worked at the Minute Car Wash (above picture). We were not regular employees. We just showed up when we needed a little money to go out on the town or buy something or whatever. On Saturdays from 8 until 5 was $5 plus lunch*. And on Sundays from 8 until 1:00 was $3, lunch not included.
The straw-boss was Pete. Mr. Avery and his cashier sat in the office counting money all the time, or so it seemed. Pete walked around like a slave overseer and prodded us to work harder.
My friends that also worked there off and on were Billy Joe & Jack Royal, Johnny Pascoe, Tommy Hadaway, Jimmy McEntyre, C. W.**, and I forgot who else.
The regular crew, about six blacks, called Jimmy McEntyre “Chicken Head” which he went along with and joked back at them. After a while we sort of knew him by Chicken Head and one time called him that at Varner’s Restaurant. I thought he was ready to whip all of us. It made him mad for us to call him that, but the regular workers could and he didn’t seemed to mind – go figure.
Jimmy, Billy Joe, and a regular lay usually greeted the customer when they drove up. They would take out their floor flats and pressure washer them and hook them to the back bumper and while they were at it they would pressure washer the hood and bumpers and hooked the car to chain which they hooked to a linked conveyer chain that pulled the car through the carwash.
The rest of us dried the car when it got out of the carwash. And Pete would walk around and spray ammonia on bug splatters and point out spots.
One time Pete called me aside and told me to pull up my pants, my cleavage was showing.
In time we outgrew the car wash and most of us went to work for grocery stores.
I haven’t been in a conveyer type carwash since then until yesterday.
We took my mother-in-law’s Buick to have washed. I was surprised to see it is just about the same conveyor type system.
But there are some differences: At the beginning two preppy neat men tells you of your choices. You can purchase a simple carwash for about $5 or $6 and pay different levels up to something like $25.99. We picked the next to the highest, the $19.99. I almost expected the greeter to say, “Good choice!”
Also, if you want to leave the car with them for most of a day they will really get it clean for about a hundred bucks, or even more slicker and gleaming for about $200.00.
The two preppy greeters were white. There was a Latino on the inside waiting to do his part of the assembly line.
Inside, where you pay the male cashier carefully explained how it works. Your license number is given points each time you get a carwash, and after so many, I guess you get something nice… a free carwash? (my attention span did not last that long to find out the ultimate prize).
The waiting room at today’s carwash was like a boutique. They sold little gifts, trinklets, greeting cards, and a little bit of this and that.
The cashier explained to us how to tip, if we wanted to. Tip the person that comes in and escorts you out to show you the car after it is finished and he will distribute the tip fairly.
I begin to look around at all the employees inside and out front. They were all lily white, except the Latino I already mentioned. However, they had one female (blond) dryer and one male dryer with tattooed arms, plus two or three regular looking Joes. That proves they are Equal Opportunity Employers.
* Next door was The Carter family restaurant. They served small Krystal or White-Castle type of hamburgers – I think they sold then for 2 for a quarter – if you bought a large quantity, which the car wash owner Mr. Avery did. We each got two small hamburgers. So, our pay for Saturday was $5.25. I don’t think he furnished drinks but did recommend his Coke machine.
** One Day only. I think C.W. broke something and at the end of the day Mr. Avery took it out of his $5 pay which left $0. C, told Avery he had better pay him the full amount or he will regret it. I don’t remember the outcome of that little incident.