There is a clear strategy for outsmarting carwash
Kathy Cooke

My husband and I attended the South Texas Press Association convention in Round Rock this past week, along with my Mom and Dad and nephew Agustin.

Brother Ken Esten was also there from Fredericksburg, with wife Christine and my nephews Esten and Will. So we had a mini-family reunion, which made the convention even more fun!

We stayed at the Austin Marriott North on La Frontera Boulevard and it is a great place for a convention. The food was very good and a step up from a lot of “convention” food.

They also had an indoor swimming pool, which the nephews loved. In fact, Augie was bragging that they stayed in the pool so late the first night that they were “really, really wrinkly!”

Due to a scheduling conflict, my husband and I found ourselves in two different cars, which is highly unusual for us. We work together, go to church together, play on the weekends together, so we are usually in the same car.

On the way home we stopped at that HEB in Round Rock (Rockdale’s Frank Juarez is a manager there so we call it “Frank’s HEB). We gassed up the car because gas was $3.25 and we got a “free” car wash with the fill-up.

Husband Bill made me get out of the drivers side because he needed to drive through the car wash. I didn’t realize that there was a skill to driving through an automatic car wash. But apparently there is.

I also felt the need to point out that we have a much better carwash in Rockdale and we could go to that one when we got home. But again, apparently I do not realize the importance of a “free” carwash.

So husband gets into the car and starts driving forward, ever so slowly. In fact, it was so slow that I looked over at him to see if he had decided against going in.

When I asked him, in a very polite, non-nagging way, what in the heck he was doing, I was surprised to see a look of determination in his eyes.

With gritted teeth he said, “I am getting my money’s worth.” Ummm, ok, again, free carwash. Free being the operative word. BAM! You got your money’s worth.

As I sat in the passenger’s side, I began giving automatic carwashes a whole lot more thought than I ever had before. I always thought that automatic carwash meant that it was, well, automatic. I thought that you pay your money, drive forward until an alarm goes off or a loud voice says Stop or Back Up. Then you just sit there, in your car, having done your part. Then the carwash washes your car. Automatically. The next thing that requires an action on my part is driving out of the car wash.

Boy was I ever wrong.

Because apparently, it is imperative that one must “outsmart” the automatic carwash in order to get an even better wash. That would imply that the Automatic Carwash is capable of thought, but what do I know?

So Bill drives through the carwash at negative one MPH, then he backs up and does the same thing again. This whole time I am sitting over in the passenger side staring at this man I am married to, who thinks he is Dr. Emmet Brown in the DeLorean on “Back To The Future.”

Well guess what? The carwash was a dud anyway. It didn’t even have any soap in the dispenser. So we drove away in a wet, still dirty car despite the best efforts of my husband.

The next day we had to drive back to the carwash because Bill was furious. I parked the car beside the carwash because I wasn’t about to go in with him, to complain about a “free” carwash.

He comes back to the car with another coupon for another free carwash. Then he says “Hop out, I need to drive.”

But this time the little, tired red-head came out in me and I told him, in a very polite, non-nagging way, that no, I was capable of driving through an automatic carwash.

Well, he didn’t like it one bit. But I drove up to the machine anyway, inserted my coupon code and started to drive forward. My husband was standing in the window, hands on his hips, watching me drive through the car wash to make sure I did it right.

I heard him yell something about “drive slow...” then I turned up Little Feat in the stereo and never heard another word out of him.

Somehow I managed to drive through the automatic carwash. It was a struggle but I got through it.

After I drove out, he walked around the car to inspect this second “free” carwash. Frowning, he motioned for me to roll down my window and I thought for a split second he wanted me to go back through.

Instead he said “You know, that 5 Starr Carwash is way better than this carwash. We should have just waited until we got home.”

Oh. Really?

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