The Carwash

carwash image 1Today I took my car to the carwash after putting it off for months. I don’t go very often because I always seem to leave feeling duped. The lowest price is $14.99 and the guys giving you the ticket usually guilt you in to “The Works” – A $29.99 thrill ride that includes air freshener, Armor All on the tires and all sorts of other goodies that they tell you are important to the “health” of your vehicle. As if cherry flavored foam on my undercarriage is going to complete me. Well…. not at the carwash it won’t. I do my best to stand firm and insist on the “Basic”.

I drove in to the carwash from the wrong direction and the guy standing there got a little mad at me. He waved a dirty rag at me and pointed his arm to the left sternly. I stared at him for a moment and then proceeded through the area to make a u-turn. He got even angrier. I almost thought to leave because he might remember my car and forget to vacuum and wipe down the console, but I had driven a fair distance. I wanted to take advantage of the free coupon I got from my car dealership after they failed to wash my car after an oil change. Ain’t it great how everyone seems to go the extra mile when it comes to service in the “service” industry these days??

After my mistake, I went ahead and pulled around to the correct area and up to the gas pump. The guy there was much nicer than the angry rag waver. As a matter of fact, he was kinda hot in a ponytail and cigarette stained teeth kind of way. He made conversation with me about whether I liked my car or not. He called his girlfriend his “lady”. Very 1982 for a guy who was probably born that year.

I drive a Buick. Yep. A Buick. I love the friggin thing. It’s my third one. I’m kinda like Goldilocks with Buicks. I first had the big one –  the “Enclave”. It was a great car but when I got a divorce I thought I needed to downsize and it was too big for my newly single self.  Then for some strange reason I decided to get the more economical version called the  “Encore”. That car sucked. It would have been perfect if I was 25 and just out of college. Plus it was a lease. Who thought of this idea? I could only drive my car to work and back if I wanted to stay within the “allowable” mileage. What a crock. I finally landed on the “Envision”. This car is the perfect size for me and my size 13 shoe wearing son plus it’s gorgeous inside. Dave Ramsey would not approve of my payments but I value enjoyment as much as achievement. I spend a lot of time in my car and I drive around the Southwest and California all the time so it’s worth it for me to drive a nice car.

Anyway, I was happy that this cool guy just let me get gas and use my coupon for a free wash without any up-selling and he even allowed me a little cougar flirting. It was refreshing.

I proceeded to the cashier past the unbelievable amount of available impulse buys. Cards, trinkets, air fresheners, leopard print garbage holders, cups, and various other crap that absolutely no one needs. Ever. I actually thought about buying a metal angel with the words “Drive safely” engraved on it and a hand cream that smelled like the ocean but somehow I managed to escape candle and card free.  I was just passing the time before I had to face the inevitable car wash disappointment.

I figured they weren’t going to do a good job because of my earlier faux pas and ….. I was right! However rather than get pissed and ask the guy if I could use his dirty dish towel and wipe down the dashboard in front of him like I used to, I have learned to keep Armor-All wipes in my car for just such an occasion. I have never gotten in to my car after a carwash and said “Wow, this is great! They did an awesome job!” Never. My eye sees details that were missed. And they pretty much missed everything on this one.

The cool thing about the particular carwash I chose was that they had free vacuums around the corner because I guess they know that they do a shitty job and let you do it yourself after they fail. Too bad they don’t provide the wipes too. I wondered if the free vacuums are only for people who get the unlimited car washes like my ex-husband who washes his car so much the paint job is suffering.

So my point is this: should we expect more from a $15 car wash? (Or in my case free) Should we just lower our expectations and realize that we are taking our car to the carwash because we are too lazy and too busy to take the time to bust out the bucket and hose and do it ourselves? It’s too much trouble to go to the do-it-yourself wash because we don’t want to dry the car off after we wash it. Is it right to feel cheated by the local vehicle bathers? The guys and gals there are making minimum wage and busting ass out in the elements for a $4 tip. (That brings the price up to $19 for the basic).

I think the thing I’m saying is that generally in retail and service establishments, the folks are working for the wage and not doing it to be truly of service in any way. It’s not part of our culture anymore. Seems like those days are gone. If only they realized that good service and going the extra mile to do a good job does not go unnoticed by the Universe. It just doesn’t. If you do the bare minimum and don’t take any pride in your work, even if it’s wiping down some bitchy lady’s steering wheel…. can you expect to be rewarded? If some customer is a big dummy and makes you mad at work, should you pay them back with slow or inadequate service. I think not. This will come back to you even though the business doesn’t belong to you. Perhaps not right away, but it will. I think Mr. Ponytail will do well. I remember his kindness in an otherwise boring suburban day.

So the next time you are wondering why you are stuck in your job and can’t get ahead, think about your acts of service. Do you go the extra mile for no reason except to be of service? Try it! It could possibly change your life and move you from working at the car wash to owning it.

 

Hero at the Tire Store

Low section of male mechanic repairing car's tire in repair shopI went to take my car in the other day because I had a nail in my tire and just needed it patched. I had about an hour before I had to be at an appointment so was hoping it would go quickly. Of course, two people were in front of me in the line and that took 15 minutes. So by the time I got to the front of the line I was irritated. The gentleman behind the counter was very nice. I explained to him that I was in a hurry and was hoping I could get the tire patched before I had to go to my appointment so I did not have to take an Uber. At first I was cranky. He stayed incredibly nice. He asked me how my day was going. I realized I was being bratty and I told him “I’m sorry, I’m just irritated because I want to try to get to my appointment without taking an Uber”. It was a good move on my part… to be honest and to apologize. To my surprise, he said with a huge smile on his face that he would do his very best to get me out of there so I did not have to take an Uber to my appointment. I didn’t really believe him but I sat down and waited. About 15 minutes later I asked if I could pay so that I could go quickly when the car was ready. He said yes. He started asking me a few questions like what kind of appointment was I going to… I hesitated because I was going to see my therapist. Instead I told him I had a doctors appointment. He then said “I don’t blame you for hesitating as I don’t like going to the doctor.” He said the last time he went to the VA it was not fun. Realizing he was a veteran, I then started to ask him a few questions. I became curious about his service. I asked if he was in Afghanistan. He said no he was in Iraq for 7 tours. That’s right 7 tours. This guy did not look older than 35 years old. He then started to share with me his experience. He enlisted after 9/11 because he said he was pissed off. He said that was not the main reason but that he wanted to be of service and to help people, himself and his family. He said that on his first tour his staff sergeant said “see you tomorrow” but then died that night. I was stunned. I asked him if it was scary. He said it was but that he knew he was supposed to be there. I almost got a tear. What an amazing thing to say. He said he saw a lot of things. 

Here was this guy (who I feel is a hero) working at Firestone tire. Here was me being bitchy to him because I wanted to make it to my appointment on time. My appointment with the therapist. I felt silly going to therapy over my minuscule problems when he had probably seen suffering, death and despair. He was still able to greet me with a smile and he even went the extra mile and got me out of there and to my appointment on time. He told me that he stopped another car from coming into the bay so that mine would get done first! Amazing.

My perspective changed. My whole day changed. I was so grateful to have had the chance to talk to this young man. It really made an impact on me. It made me realize that everything is about perspective and the way we perceive things. It’s about what we expect and how our mind works. Granted we are all different and some people are cut out to be badasses like this guy and it seemed easy. When I asked him if he had trouble sleeping or if he had to go to therapy he said no but that was just his personality. He said his buddy that was with him on one of his tours was shaking all the time and felt scared all the time. They were in the same situation but had totally different reactions. I do believe that the way we think is what creates our reality. Nevertheless, the lesson that I learned was one of great value. We do not know what another person‘s story is and we cannot assume. We should also know that ”when we change the way we look at things, what we look at changes” (Thanks Wayne Dyer, Bob Proctor and the rest). When I realized that this person had done a great service for this country and for many other people, I no longer felt impatient. My perspective on my problems changed too. They seemed tiny and I felt happier. I was grateful to have had the encounter and for staying loose and not holding on to my bad mood. I decided to go with the flow and let this person talk to me. And I’m so grateful that I did because he made an unexpected impact on me. I’m sure he doesn’t realize how big of an impact he made, but he did! The other thing he did was go the extra mile for me and greet me with a smile. These things go a long way. This was a great example for how I can conduct myself in my own life as well as my business. That’s all. Everyday heroes are everywhere.

Dinner for Free

IMG_8743My son and I go out to dinner a lot. We always have. My ex and I were avid diners and we went out to eat at least 2 to 3 times a week when we were married and Kevin went along in his car seat carrier until he could get in the high chair. He was great and well behaved in restaurants because he was raised going to them. Now it’s a little tough as I improve my diet and health and my son wants to continue to eat french fries and pizza at every meal. We are working on better ordering skills. When I was a kid we never went out. There were three of us and going out to dinner was an ordeal. Plus my brother and I would always fight and cause a scene and my mom just couldn’t deal with it. So that was that.

Tonight my son and I decided on dinner and a movie. We set out with no particular plan. We left early as getting in a restaurant in my area of Phoenix is tragic on a Saturday night. None of the restaurants take reservations so you just have to go get in line or sit and wait.  It’s horrible! So we got there at 5:30 and the wait was only 15 minutes but we decided on the bar since we could sit right down.

We ordered barbecue because um it was a barbecue joint. I love barbecue! There’s a place in Poway, CA that is the best BBQ in the world – Kominsky’s. It is delicious. Second would be Dave’s famous BBQ. They have the best sauces. Anyway, we ordered our food and I ordered baby back ribs, beans and grilled veggies (to try to add something that resembled healthy). We got the food really quickly and I could see immediately it wasn’t going to be delicious. I could see the fat on the ribs… which they said were the leaner ones than the St. Louis ribs, and the beans were in a bowl and no steam coming off of them. The veggies were altogether dried out and not hot. Seemed like the plate had been under a heat lamp waiting to go out to the next baby back rib order. It was Ok I guess but not that great.

I started critiquing the experience immediately and my son started groaning and rolling his eyes. “Mom, please don’t say anything”. He is used to me by now and I never remain silent when food or service isn’t good. Especially when it’s expensive. I am bewildered by the thousands of restaurants that offer bad food and bad service. When faced with either challenge, I try to be nice and just state the facts. I usually end up making friends but my son just hates it when I speak up about it. He thinks I should just be quiet and accept it without complaint. I just can’t. However, he asked me nicely so I refrained from saying anything about my dried up mushrooms and the gooey fat hanging from my baby backs. Fat little cow… or is it pig. Whatever.

After dinner my son headed for his usual after dinner bathroom excursion. As I sat there alone, the manager appeared before me. A tall, dark and handsome guys with a great demeanor. He asked me how my meal was. I said “It was ok” with a shrug. He said “Just OK?” “Yeah just ok”. He told me he was sorry to hear that and I told him that I promised my son I wouldn’t say anything but that the veggies were cold and the ribs were too fatty. I told him I gave it a C. He laughed and I may have flirted just a little but then he did the unexpected. He said “I’m going to take care of this for you”.  My eyes widened in surprise. “The whole thing??” and he said “Yep, the whole thing! I want my customers to be happy and I’d love for you to come back and try again”. I thought well, I may not come back for the food but if you’re here, I’ll be back tomorrow!! Sorry I’ll admit it, I’m a cougar. I couldn’t believe it! I really wasn’t expecting anything, but I thought he might want to know the truth. The truth is not a bad thing in this situation.

So I was relieved that my son had missed the entire exchange, but couldn’t wait to tell him that my “feedback” had gotten us a free dinner! As I told him the story, the manager returned with another rack of ribs packed up as a gift! Wow. That is going the extra mile to keep a customer happy, and my son saw that sometimes demanding something better in a nice way can actually pay off.

I am a food critic. I just am. I like dining out and I have been to some pretty good restaurants and some pretty bad ones too. I used to go to some of the fancy, trendy fine dining establishments back in my Vegas days which is probably why I expect so much out of the experience. I just feel like there are a ton of choices out there for food and service and if a restaurant wants to stay in business, they should do a good job! Don’t you? I know for some people, going out is a real luxury and for those people to have a bad experience is downright unfair. They should have a nice meal and an enjoyable time with great service at any price point. Otherwise, get out of the business! In an age where everything can be ordered online including a meal, the restaurant establishments should seriously consider dining at their own restaurant to see how the experience is. That way maybe they won’t have to give away free dinners too often.

Cut Offs

Last night I went to a concert. It was one I had been looking forward to. I am not going to be specific but it was a band that’s been around for about 12 or 13 years and is alternative rock maybe borderline punk. The front man is amazingly talented with a gifted set of pipes and a flamboyant stage presence. I love him.

I took my 15 year old son. I unfortunately made him dress up a little which was not IMG_8642 2really a good call on my part but I really enjoyed seeing him looking so put together and handsome. The problem was that everyone at this concert was so dressed down that they looked like they got their clothes from the dumpster in back of the Goodwill. My son made a comment that he was the only person wearing a color. Not one person had on any color except for the girls wrapped in gay pride flags. (Don’t get weird – it’s just true) That was the only color we saw anyone wearing! That and faded turquoise blue hair.

So the issue for me is this: Why do gorgeous people.. inside and out, make themselves look as grungy as possible? I could tell it was a deliberate look. What is the allure of faded unusual colored hair (for some reason I never see it bright), cut offs and  a crappy band tee shirt? How do people get to a point where they get dressed in rags rather than pretty fabrics and say yes, this is the perfect costume for me. IMG_8641It seemed like every person was wearing the same costume. We felt really out of place. I didn’t understand the fashion. I felt like a reverse rebel. People were looking at me and my son like “What are YOU doing here?” Well, I have a right to be there and I love the band as much as you! I just don’t feel comfortable in cut offs and a bra.

Every day when I drop my son off at the high school down the street, I see the girls in their “identity costumes”. We all dress the way we see ourselves. I know there is a dress code but it looks like the administration has given up since so many girls are wearing the shortest most shortest of the shortest short cut off pants in the world. It’s ….. well…… embarrassing. They are not covering their rears and barely the hoo ha. The girls are yanking and tugging on them as they ride up the cracks. I saw one the other day that literally made me laugh out loud as it looked like she did the cut early that morning while she was still a little sleepy. One leg shorter than the other and all jaggedy like. She was tugging and pulling and I could see the doubt in her eyes that she may not have made a good decision.

I know when I was a teenager we had our own wierdnesses. The pants we wore were so tight that none of us could breathe or sit, but we did get in trouble if we didn’t cover our body parts with some fabric. I remember hearing my mother say “those pants are too tight Annie”, as the door slammed behind me. I had not an ounce of fat on my 15 year old body so I really didn’t care. I had a bi-level hair cut or a drop perm and I often dressed in black tights and short boots while listening to the Go-Gos and Duran Duran on my cassette tape boom box. However, I could switch gears. I could also wear a cheerleading costume, or a sweater and cords or an AC/DC tee shirt and a pair of jeans. I tended to change my costumes as I had a diverse array of interests.

I find it interesting that many of us find one costume and that is the one we wear for life or for a very long season. It is one that says “this is me and I am in this box over here. You are wrong if you don’t like it”. I thought about trying to wear cut offs for a day or dying my hair turquoise just to try to figure out how that feels. I am content however to realize that everyone is just where they are at because of their own experiences and things that resonate with them. We observe from our own perspective and form opinions and sometimes judgements about others who differ from us. I am always grateful for my ability back when I was younger to move around in different groups rather then letting others label and pigeonhole me in to a limiting stereotype. I was a chameleon. I was a cheerleader, a drama geek, a nerd, a stoner, a rocker, a new waver, an artist, a student activist all rolled in to one. I also had a life that no one knew about outside of school. Maybe other people saw me as only one of those things but I was all of them. I still do this. I don’t want to be stereotyped. I don’t want to stereotype myself.

Everyone is coming from their own unique perspective. As long as your perspective isn’t violent or harming others, we can learn to tolerate each other, but we do appreciate it when you don’t cut your cut offs too short.