An oil change service at the local Quick Lube usually includes vacuuming the car’s inside, plus a choice of air freshener – that is, it does for everyone’s car but mine. I tell the mechanic not to bother, for the same reason I don’t get pedicures: it’s as pointless as it is embarrassing. My toes are way too crooked, the toenails I have left way too gnarly – I’m sure a coat of polish won’t fool anyone. A little whiff of imitation vanilla in my car would feel just as insincere because it’s obvious this vehicle has not been washed in years, inside or out. I want to spare innocent cosmetologists the sight of my toenails, just like want to spare the guy in blue overalls the overwhelming task of excavating my car’s floor from layers and layers of sand, dirt, manure, alfalfa hay, Honey Stinger crumbs, and other debris of my messy lifestyle.
I tried a coat of polish for the San Diego 100. What was the point?
I am a horse trainer and ultra runner who commutes two hours a day. I am not a total slob. My house, while not spotless, is an inviting place to come home to. My horses look presentable. After working them, I brush the sweat from their coats and pick the dirt out of their feet every day. My car, on the other hand. looks like it’s been rode hard and put up wet. I call it Blue, because, under all the dust, it’s blue (take my word for it). I don’t bother to fix any of its many scrapes and dents – not because I’m lazy (or, at least, not only because I’m lazy), but because I kind of like looking at them. Like the scars on my knees, which I wear with pride, each mark on my car’s body tells a story:
“Way too tired after Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim to notice wooden post at campground entrance.”
“Underestimated width and condition of rutted dirt track leading to a remote aid station. Should have taken heads-up that said it was “four wheel drive only” literally, instead of assuming this meant “four wheel drive recommended, but hardy little cars can do it, too!”
“Ran over deer (which was, thank goodness, already dead) on my way back from Bryce Canyon.”
So, my car won’t win any beauty contests anytime soon, but it’s uniquely mine. It may be small, but it’s pretty roomy. The trunk holds my saddle, several bridles, grooming supplies (for horses, not for me), a bag with extra running clothes, an extra pair of running shoes, jumper cables, 23 reusable grocery bags, the saddle pads I keep meaning to throw in the washer, plus the sack of aluminum cans I need to recycle but keep forgetting.
If you dare to open the driver’s side door (which is the only one that works), a collection of water bottles, buffs, and spurs come tumbling out They seem to multiply when I’m not there, like an infestation of rodents.The seats are covered in horse hair. The aroma of unwashed running shoes and sweat-soaked layers of clothing that end up in a pile on the back seat fills the air. All summer long, dead flies gather on the dashboard, while live ones buzz around the rearview mirror.
I bought this car in 2011. Since then, I have not done any of the scheduled maintenance. I have replaced bald tires and squeaky brakes, plus changed the oil every 5000 miles or so. Nothing else. It’s indestructible.
It might not be obvious, but I really appreciate my little car. How could I not? Every time I turn the key in the ignition, the engine comes alive, ready for new adventures in spite of all the abuse I subject it to. This means that, sadly, our time together is ending. At 157 000 miles, my is not ready to go out to pasture, but it does deserve a less demanding lifestyle. I am planning to give it to my stepson, whose commute is much shorter than mine, and who might even clean it up. In the meantime, I am shopping for a new little workhorse, this time in a more practical hatchback version.
I imagine my new car waiting for its new owner on the dealership lot, oblivious to the hardships ahead. I already feel a little sorry for it. Its lot mates who can look forward to washings and waxings. At least the unlucky vehicle I pick will have an adventurous life with me.
So, I’d like to know: do you ever wash or vacuum your car? If so, why? I am trying to change my messy ways, but need a valid reason – please help me out!