At the Car Wash

So much filth from the dirt roads of Cape Agulhas had adhered to my motor vehicle over the weekend, that I chose to stop off at the local car wash on my way to work this morning. This would normally be a fairly mundane experience, certainly not blogworthy (which is why I have never recorded previous visits on here) and so it proved until at least halfway through the actual washing process.

It was at this point (or at least sometime near it) that I became aware, while sitting within the vehicle, being scrubbed with a medium-soft brush (the vehicle, not me), that the scrubbing noise had temporarily ceased and had been replaced with a far shoutier noise, like shouting. The reason for this was that Mzwandile – the guy who up until ever so recently had been doing the scrubbing – was now no longer scrubbing and was instead shouting at his boss, who had seemingly entered the car wash area with the sole purpose of having an argument with Mzwandile. The boss, armed only with a loud voice and a pointy finger was arguing right back and things were getting heated. The brush was thrust forward by Mzwandile and palmed aside by the boss. The commotion had attracted a small audience, who watched in amusement as they went toe to toe in the dirty foam.

I just wanted my car washed. It was really, really dirty.
It’s a sandy, clayey soil, see? Dusty and sticky. The nightmare combination.

Annoyingly, the argument was going on behind me, and it felt a bit awkward turning around to watch. Fortunately, my offside wing mirror had already been washed and so I was able to observe in that way. Things were rapidly getting louder and angrier and shoutier. And while I didn’t want to step in between them – not least because there was a lot of water, foam and dirt around and I didn’t want to get wet, foamy or dirty – it seemed that someone would have to intervene before, as we say in our neck of the woods, “it all went off”.

“Leave ‘im, Mzwandile. ‘E ain’t werf it!”

said no-one in an Essex accent.

It was at this point that someone did intervene, in (with hindsight at least) the only way one would have thought possible. The local ADT guy came around the corner: five foot nothing of bulletproof jacket and oversize helmet, holding in his right hand, his gun and in his left (and here I shit thee not) a blue plastic kettle – with the lid open.

The gun did seem a bit of overkill, but if you’re heading into a potentially inflammatory situation, perhaps one where someone may be armed with a foamy brush, and you have a gun to hand (oh, and if it’s not dark in your bathroom), then by all means venture cautiously around the corner with your weapon drawn, I suppose. I’m sure that the ADT Training Manual dictates a safety first approach in this, the most violent of countries (even in a suburban car wash at eight o’clock on a sunny Tuesday morning).

The kettle, though. I’ve no idea.
Maybe he was planning on diffusing the situation with the offer of a nice cup of tea.

Either way, whether it was his cannon, his kettle or merely coincidence (and I’m 99% sure it was merely coincidence), the argument ended almost as abruptly as it had started, with the boss taking his pointy finger back out of the car wash and Mzwandile taking his brush and beginning again on the rear wheel arch, which had for so long been without his attention. Both verbal pugilists were shaking their heads as they parted, perhaps each at the attitude of the other, perhaps at the futility of vocal combat, but most probably at the fact that the local ADT representative brought a kettle to a word fight.

Around us, people went quickly back to whatever they should have been doing, possibly concerned that there would be some small charge levied for the entertainment. Mzwandile completed his job with no further interruptions, got a small tip for his troubles and I headed off to work with a shiny car, albeit one whose interior requires some serious attention from a vacuum cleaner at home this evening.

I’m fully planning to get my car dirty again as soon as possible. Not just because it is fun on the back roads and beaches of the Southern Cape, but so that I can enjoy more AmDram theatre at the car wash.

Next time, I hopes there’s music as well.

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