Sometimes, blog ideas slap you in the face like a wet towel, as was the case earlier at the Clearwater Car Wash - a hand-wash joint on Ocean Highway between South Carolina's seafood capitol - Murrells Inlet - and the state's commercialism mecca - Myrtle Beach.
A gully-washer of a thunderstorm loomed overhead. The sound of rolling thunder competed with the noise from inside the cave of oversized brushes and water works. The humidity promised a free wash for everyone.
The young man ahead of us was finally hailed over to his clean, grime-free SUV. A newer model. Like a Mars rover. Not the hillbilly wagon we were waiting to reclaim.
I worried those poor saps, dripping wet in the heat, polishing and wiping down cars, were going to keel over like the Olympic marathon walker last weekend. You just knew they'd rather be making smoothies up the road at Sonic. These hand-wash operators deserve every nickel of their tip - especially if it is a larger vehicle.
Curious as to whether the SUV's owner was going to reward the cleaner with a few bills, I watched as he approached his car, obviously his pride and joy. What happened next ultimately had my daughter and me doubled over in laughter, and then disappointment.
Mr. OCD inspected his vehicle with military precision, circling the wagon and pointing out a smudge here and a missed swipe there. Then his inspection focused on the interior. Oy. Every fiber of the carpeting was given the once over by this guy, while the car wash detail team stood by, aghast. Minutes rolled by to closing time. Mr. Obsessive-Compulsive grabbed a towel, apparently thinking it best to instruct these poor fellows on how to clean HIS car properly, as he waved the cloth in the air like a conductor.
Someone drag him over to our vehicle. He'd be horrified. Have a couple of kids. You won't be able to tell the difference between an inferior car wash and crayon marks.
The detail crew stood by, helpless. Was this a candid camera moment, perhaps? Unfortunately not. The owner of the vehicle proceeded to lift the hatch, and pull out his own cleaning supplies? Whah?! Either this guy is wound tighter than a fan belt, or the heat index has affected his thinking.
There is a myriad of items in the back of our vehicle - rusty beach chairs, an empty oil container, limbless dolls, but auto detail supplies are not included! He could have saved himself $17.99.
After the detail dance came to an end, and I prepared to gladly hand over my money to our wash boy, who looked as if he'd run through the sprinklers, I expected Mr. OCD to do the same.
Nope. Nada. Zippo.
Instead, the young SUV owner, upon green-lighting his own inspection, hopped into the car and sped away. I'm not sure what was worse, his insensitivity to the sweat and labor the boys had put into polishing his car, or his failure to tip them.
"I need a drink of water," the exhausted and deflated detail guy said as he walked by.
I think he just needed a drink!
Everywhere we turn these days, someone has a tip container at the ready, eager to be rewarded for doing next to nothing. There are plenty of self-services that don't merit a monetary appreciation. But the worker-bee who wipes down your car from bumper to bumper, inside and out, most certainly deserves a tip. Afterall, it 'manners' a lot!