Saturday, July 30, 2016

Changing perspective

Over the years I have written a lot about the themes of entropy, flux and contigency, and particularly how they relate to and/or are made manifest in yard care and/or house care. Basically, the idea that we trim and rake and cut and clean and dust to inculcate order into our surroundings and exert control over nature and the external, forces that seem to beset us at every turn. When I started reflecting on this, I viewed it somewhat ironically and at a distance, in the abstract terms of the slightly warmed over humanities scholar.

By now, I know it is personal, or at least it has become so for me. The desire to impose order on the world is all about aging.

I feel it in particular with regard to my house, and my car... I look at signs of overgrowth of plants, on the one hand, or mold or worn paint, on the other, and I feel a need to battle them, but not the energy. I really should outsource more of it.

I just did a quick search and found that I have already written much the same post, back in November. Here it is.

So let me shift gears slightly.  Last weekend I decided it was finally time to wash the Volvo, which looked pretty disgusting. So I took it to the car wash on the road formerly known as Airport. I was pulling in to the drive through one there, which I like because you get to let go inside the car and take a little nap while the sound of swooshy swoosh washes over you, but this older Caribbean gentleman who worked there looks at my car and points back to the self-service area, where you spray your car yourself and says:  "if it were my car, I'd take it there, driving through this thing isn't gonna hardly do anything."  Then he said something and "high-pressure rinse" so I said "OK" and drove over where he had pointed.

So I put like ten bucks in the thing and went through all the steps and felt like I had done a pretty decent job. Sure, some of the much didn't come off, but it looked much better to me.  And I pulled through to the vacuuming area. The older guy comes along and looks at it, shakes his head a little and says "How much money did you put in there?"  So I told him. And he goes "back it up into there and let me work on it a little."  Then he goes and gets a card that lets him get free time using the machines, and spends about 15 more minutes on it.  Really working it.  He used "tire wash" on the whole car because it was, as he said, the strongest soap.

In the end, the car came out looking great, and he reluctantly accepted a nice tip. And I learned how to wash a car as filthy as that.

I too felt great, having pushed back the craggy fingers of death a little further away from our fine old car.  And that car wash -- whose owner played baseball in high school 60 years ago with my departed uncle Heywood -- cemented a customer for life through excellent customer service.

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