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September 27, 2022 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Tips and what washes

Giant sculpture of hand holding car at ar wash. ( Cbl62/

Gotta hand it to them.(Cbl62/

The streets were dangerous when I was little.

Mom was the block’s informal Driver’s Ed. instructor – for other moms.

Odd as it may seem now, once many were one car families with dads doing the driving.

Once the women moved to the Big City and realized there was a bigger – and more interesting world – off the block, the urge to drive hit….sometimes kids. Not intentionally. (So they said) But you had to be alert…especially as all the cars were stick shift involving the skill of clutches.

The sounds of gears grinding, brakes squeaking, and heavy metal cars lurching were enough to send us dashing up yards away from driveways and sidewalks.

We thought that was normal.

What we also thought was “Hey, the money making opportunities are doubling” as families added another vehicle: Car washing. 

Nothing like pride of a new driver wanting a shiny new car as they drive down the street all on their own.

Buckets, soap, and marginally clean rags lugged eagerly by small hands towards each new victim driver.

Grumpy boy sitting in metal tub. (simpleinsomnia/Flickr/

“I don’t care if you are hot. Get out of our car washing water.” (simpleinsomnia/

Thus the origin of a now time-honored, local tradition: the Student Fundraising Car Wash. 

Students of a club or school group dragged out of bed early one Saturday to participate in earning money to help pay for band trips, Cheerleading camp, sports teams’ equipment – you get the idea.

Thought by most better to earn money by some sort of effort than just stand and beg on the corner with a bucket.

While the Drama Clubs’ car washes are always entertaining (Often done around Halloween or a holiday offering chance to costume-up), most appreciated by passer-bys are the high school cheerleading groups with their “hawkers” out front by the street calling people over with their posters, short shorts, and soapy T-shirts.

Enthusiasm somewhat dulled after noticing a line of moms/dads with their arms crossed standing a few feet back.

Some business-minded parent quickly suggested the total of money raised could be increased by selling “tickets” the week earlier door to door to neighbors. It’s your neighbor’s kid…the folks who bought that dreadful band candy bar or cheap overpriced wrapping paper from your kid. Part of the price of living in a community. No real choice.

Bearing in mind the car wash workers were quickly tired and sometime resentful teenage girls, most gearheads/ drivers who really took care of their cars dutifully showed up and stopped far back from the buckets of dirty water and grimy rags. “Just wish the wheels, please.” Hey, less work for the same pay? No problema! Win-Win situation. Car owner is seen participating (while sparing their car finish), the cheer leaders get the same one for less work, and the fund total adds up.

Two teen girls at fund raising car wash. (J.Shlabotnik/Flickr/

“Can you believe we are having to spend our Saturday doing this? My manicure is going to be ruined. Why can’t our parents just write a check?”(J.Shlabotnik/Flickr/

While not as entertaining, automatic drive-thru car washes are practical: quick, competent, and without human contact. 

COVID behavior has made so many more introverted and avoiding human contact even now. That and sometimes you’re just in a hurry and want to be invisible…bad haircut, spilled catsup, whatever.

The very large car wash chains have gotten pretty fancy with spectacular light shows as you are inched along.

And with big and flashy, comes corporate thinking….”Hey, friendly service increases customers – think Walmart greeters.”

So they write out the job descriptions “Need perky, enthusiastic, likable, self starters who love to chat it up with people”

Octopus Car Wash 1981 Minnesota (LoC/flickr/

When a simple bucket of soapy water in the driveway wasn’t enough: 1981, Minnesota.(LoC/

That’s what we witnessed recently during a spur of the moment desire for a quick wash the car while running errands.

As usual Sr. Staff drove up to the push button driveway machine to reach out the his window to select level of wash desired and pay….but didn’t get the chance.

A perky young employee in uniform quickly inserted himself between car and car wash console. And stood there while asking if we had been there before (“Yes”, trying to reach around to punch buttons) and were we familiar with the “all you can eat” style car wash membership?

Kindly we said, “Yes, but no, thank you.”

Not to be deterred, he asked if where we lived (and wanted to tell us of their other locations – which where we could also use their club membership.

Ditto with the “Yes, but no…” (Still trying to figure out how to get to machine buttons around this kid)

Smiling cheerful employee then says “Which car wash do you want? (and starts to list all the optional wash products)”. Not moving an inch from blocking the machine.

“We just want the basic,” Sr. Staff replies – but not quick enough. The kid says, “I’ll punch that in for you.” and then practically bats the driver’s hand away from the machine. Grabbing the credit card, the employees inserts it for Sr. Staff.

Did I tell you the machine buttons were quite easily reached from the driver’s car windows?

Before the pulling out the card, the kid looks straight at us with a big goofy kid smile and asked “Do you want to add a tip?”

A tip. For service provided. At an automatic car wash. A car wash you decided to go to because it was quick and easy.

I can hear corporate bean counters introducing the concept: “People love personalized service. It will draw in customers, increase the bottom line, and we can hire and pay employees less if they have the potential for tips!”

Men in suits talking. (Koch/Dutch Nat. Archives/USPD,. released CR,

“Of course it’ll work. Guilt always works.”(Koch/Dutch Nat.Archives/USPD released/

Guess it’s just today’s world.

Some of those “new jobs” created?

Hope the big corporations don’t start complaining the student groups and charity carwashes are cutting into their business and those need to be regulated. HaHa

Won’t wash to come between a teen and her dreams dependent on fund raising for pom pom or drama queen camp.

Drive on

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Try watching this 1976 movie trailer without humming that tune the rest of the day. Double dare you. Gotta smile: Great movie.

Inside car during car wash looking thru window. ( W.carter/ PD released/

Splish splash. Pretty, but the robot car washes simply are not the same.(USPD/




Leave a Comment
  1. Anne Mehrling / Sep 27 2022 9:02 am

    Most amusing! I think I would ask the intrusive kid for a refund for obstructing the machine and making me late.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 1:17 pm

      Such a puzzling situation…those kids won’t stop talking! (until we said “no” to tips)
      Maybe if we go back, they won’t bother to come over to the car?
      Hope your Fall is pretty, cool, and splashy with a few walks. Thanks for adding to this soapy discussion

      Liked by 1 person

  2. easyweimaraner / Sep 27 2022 9:23 am

    I liked it to drive with my dad through the car wash station.. it was like driving through a water fall… so I don’t need a hand washed car LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 1:14 pm

      You feel just like a mermaid – uh, merdog – with all the bubbles and underwater view of pretty lights.
      Molly however hated those wavy strips of cloth hitting the car…so we had to stop letting her go along for car washes. Not sure about Hank who seems to want to drive the car….
      Thanks for dashing in to splash around here


  3. Kate Crimmins / Sep 27 2022 9:58 am

    I get my car serviced twice a year mostly for free (it’s still new). They run it through the car wash. That and mother natures downpours are what keep my car clean. I hate car washes for all the reasons you describe here. I used to go to a DIY one at dawn on Sunday mornings to avoid people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 12:22 pm

      Complimentary car washes are such a nice addition to car servicing. Between those, rain and garages take care of mot of the pollen and dust.
      There’s still aa couple of family nice DIY ones around here – people use them for their boats, too. Recently however people have become wary…robberies, drug deals/gang arguments, and a few criminals trying to clean up evident (shiver).
      Back to the old soapy water, worn out towels, shop vac and the driveway.
      Thanks for drying off a comment to leave in this comment bucket

      Liked by 1 person

  4. SusanR / Sep 27 2022 10:46 am

    Get out of my way, kid. They call it self-service for a reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 12:15 pm

      Really. Well, they say so many jobs are in the “service” industry HaHa.
      Surely those kids will move on to better employment- it’s too hot for that here- even under an awning. Bothers me a bit that a company would opt for that….1. most people like us will say “no” and 2. many people will think twice about going back ’cause people are tired of others trying to make them feel guilty. Bad marketing plan to me in so many ways.
      One nice thing about CO winters – due to weather everyone’s car are less than shiny clean.
      Yep, thanks for pushing the buttons here


  5. Helen Devries / Sep 27 2022 11:17 am

    We have just changed cars…the old Japanese tin box was held together by dust and muck…..the new one will be getting that way eventually. So no car washes.

    In the U.K. the Scouts had a bob a job week…give them a task and pay them a shilling. Otherwise there was exhibiting a guy for money to buy fireworks for Guy Fawkes’ Night. Apart from that kids were firmly discouraged from bothering their neighbours – a sort of parents’ mutual aid society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 12:10 pm

      I used to tell people my car was dusty as protection against vandalism- no fun in scratching up an oldie!
      Kids learn more if they have to put forth a bit of effort – then achieve a goal/get something for their work. Unfortunately the world has changed so much, and many good learning experiences have been lost.
      I do love that phrase “parent mutual aid society”
      Thanks for adding that to this soapy mix

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Coastal Crone / Sep 27 2022 2:25 pm

    Car wash places are getting bigger and fancier…more expensive too. Husband is usually good enough to run our car through a quick wash at a convenience store. Yes, those drama students know how to attract attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 12:01 pm

      All the flashy light shows keep the old ones stepping up…about time for one to start featuring it’s Halloween horror show @ the car wash. Now that fun for all …..who doesn’t like “it was a dark and rainy night when suddenly….” (Warn the littles that the creatures can get into the car!) Maybe that’s where some of the drama kids ended up? HaHa
      Thanks for adding to the buckets of fun here

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ally Bean / Sep 28 2022 8:44 am

    Student Fundraising Car Washes went out of favor around here because of the water wasted– and the blatant sexism/creepy nature of flaunting teenage girls to possible pedophiles. As for automatic car washes, we got them and I love them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 11:58 am

      Even with boys participating, it’s more dangerous for kids to be jumping around looking cute along side a busy road. The practice had really slowed down even before COVID in even “safe” suburban neighborhoods. They started pulling the kids way back in the middle of parking lots – with only signs out front and pressed ‘tickets”, but parents were still nervous. Too many creeps/stalkers out there.
      Can’t do car washes anymore. Can’t have bake sales. Get harder for kids to earn their keep/learn effort has rewards. Somehow humanity trudges on…sort of…(until recently?)
      I find the evolution of car washes interesting. We know a couple who were from California, got talked into investing in a car wash here (only to find the road was realigned/re-worked of by pass their spot/how haired it was to keep help and something fishy was going on with “management” and the cash box) so upon retirement, moved here and took over – in person. A delightful couple – it’s an old fashion place, but pleasant (gear heads and classic car affectionados favor it) and a small business, so if we go there. It is a bit like the movie. Makes everyone smile
      Thanks for helping sparkle up the comment pile

      Liked by 1 person

  8. disperser / Sep 28 2022 8:54 am

    There’s a carwash nearby that sells (expensive) monthly subscriptions (unlimited carwashes). Probably why I see perfectly clean and shiny cars heading in there whenever I drive by.

    I’ve only used the place twice, and only out of necessity, and after the last time, I decided that if I couldn’t wash the car at home, I’d just drive it around dirty until I found the time. Why? Because those automatic machines don’t do a great job of cleaning the car, and they certainly don’t do a good job of drying the car.

    As for those fund-raising carwashes? Not a chance. And, no, I don’t buy stuff from students who come to my house in support of H.S. teams or activities. For one, I don’t follow or have an interest in sports, but the bigger reason is we don’t have kids. I figure the tax money we pay in support of other people’s kids is enough (if not too much).

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 11:39 am

      Until recently we just washed the car at home once in a while – usually a more complete job. That used to be a Sat. afternoon chore when growing up…and when you learned how to not scratch up the finish – and maybe a little auto repair hints along the way. Of course “accidental” waterfall swipes with the hose were part of the routine – not so unwelcome in spring and summer in an area – especially before AC.
      Then there was the stage where I said the dirt on the car was protection against getting key-ed and vandalized. No one wants to bother with an older dusty car – what’s the fun in that? HaHa
      Thanks for sloshing by with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

      • SusanR / Sep 28 2022 5:51 pm

        Maybe they don’t work for the car wash company. Maybe they just step in there hoping to get a tip? I’d be tempted to call the company to see if they know about it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 28 2022 7:45 pm

          Nope, they are employees – all in company uniforms (logo and colors) and stationed at all 3 entry machines – sometimes with tablets to enter your info if there’s a line. There was quite a crowd of them – and management types when the place opened – it’s a big chain here and they all look/act alike: pushing “extras” and subscriptions. Wonder if they are rated/get bonuses by what they “sell”?
          Too annoying for us…we don’t need weekly car washes!


          • SusanR / Sep 28 2022 7:57 pm

            Ugh. I wouldn’t go there even for my annual car wash.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. 1bl0gr3ad3r / Sep 28 2022 9:46 pm

    While i was working, would hit an automatic touchless car wash once a week as all employee cars in our garage seemed never to attract dust & dirt but mine. Now, working for the Park, nature washes my car or it stays covered in dust, pine pollen, pine needles, etc. Much cheaper, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 3 2022 12:02 pm

      Oh, there’s a marketing strategy the car wash execs. are missing: peer pressure. HaHa
      Dust, pine needles and such protects a car finish…my story and I’m sticking to it!
      Thanks for adding to the comment bucket


  10. shoreacres / Sep 29 2022 8:48 pm

    I’ve been searching and searching for a decent car wash around here. You sure can’t trust online reviews! On the other hand, I’ve got a car wash song that rivals yours. Remember this? Maybe if I put that on ye olde music machine I could keep myself happy while washing my own danged car.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 3 2022 12:01 pm

      How cool! Washing the car used to be a Sat. afternoon entertainment for teens- even in college. An excuse to get together and have some fun – music blaring. Ah, so easily entertained…and light hearted. Hmmm, seems like a therapy option there? Thanks for the sudz tune!


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