My thoughts on everything from albacore tuna to zebras
| In Pennsylvania we use salt to keep the ice off of our roads in the winter. There are huge piles of it strategically placed across the state just waiting for ice and snow to attack our roads. There are an equally large number of salt truck drivers eagerly anticipating the first snowstorm, hoping it’s at night or on the weekend so they can clock a little overtime. When a winter like this comes along (or doesn’t come along), the people in charge of the salt become nervous.
“We bought all this salt and it’s almost the end of January and we haven’t spread any of it because we’ve gotten no snow or ice!”
Enter Harrisburg’s first major snowfall. One inch. Out comes the salt. Load after load is liberally applied, so much so, that eight hours later, when the snow has melted and gone, the roads are still white…with salt. And so is my car. I suspect, knowing government thinking as well as I do, there’s a bit of the…”if we don’t use up the salt we bought for this year we won’t be able to buy as much next year and besides we’ll have these huge piles of salt in our way all summer” thinking involved.
I drive a Ford Escape. Small compact SUV with decent milage. So today I went to the carwash to remove the quarter inch thick crust of salt from my car. I’ve never been to this carwash before. In fact I never used a carwash in Harrisburg before…well, that’s not quite true, there is the one that does our state vehicles at $18.00 a crack. Hey, they towel dry and vacuum the interior!
Anyway, since it was about 10 degrees this morning I opted for the drive thru carwash instead of standing there spraying half frozen water from a half frozen hose, held in my completely frozen hand.
There were several cars ahead of me. Evidently they also had experienced the attack of the salt monster. That gave me time to read the sign. I had three choices:
No. 1 $5.95 is “we spray water on your car from the sides and these long flat Rastafarian dreadlocks rub across your car and you’re done.”
No. 2 $7.95 is “we spray water on your car from the sides and bottom and these long flat Rastafarian dreadlocks rub across your car and you’re done.”
No. 3 $9.95 is “we spray water on your car from the sides and bottom and these long flat Rastafarian dreadlocks rub across your car and we give you three, count’m, three coats, of super silly silicone and you’re done.”
I opted for # 2. So I get my money together, proud of myself for having gotten together the right amount. I power down (can’t roll down anymore) the window and hand the lady my money only to be told it’s not $7.95. It’s actually $9.54.
“Why?” I ask.
“You’re driving an oversized vehicle” is the reply. I fumble to get the extra money. I attempt to argue with her. My vehicle is midsized not oversized. The manufacturer says so. All the while my car, which is now captive of the carwash conveyor is getting sucked deeper and deeper into the abyss. The noise is deafening. I cannot hear what she says. I shout, “YOU SHOULD PUT THAT ON THE SIGN!”.
She shouts, “IT IS!”
I look at the sign, and there, in small print too fine to read from 50 ft back, are the words, oversized vehicles will be charged 94 cents more plus tax.
The water starts to spray across my hood. It is only then that I realize my window is still “powered down.” I attempt to quickly “power” it up.
It moves ever so slow. Just as the water begins to hit the windshield it finally assumes the upright position. I look puzzlingly at my wife. She looks back and shrugs her shoulders and just like that, in a matter of mere moments, we are spit out the other side. Wham. Bam. Thank you, mam.
I felt dirty. (The car was clean) I felt used.
But most of all, I felt ten dollars poorer. Dang those salt monsters.