Saturday, March 26, 2011

Guilt Wash

Earlier this week I cleaned out the inside of our minivan. I'm the primary driver of it, and between myself and the kids it can get cluttered and crumby. I did a thorough cleaning, even vaccuuming it out. It was beeeutiful. Until I stepped outside of it. Months of road crud means don't ever lean against the outside of the van, your clothes will be a mess. I resolved that the next time I had to get gas, I'd get a car wash.

Last night I had a dream in which I actually stopped to get gas, and the station had this promo going where one customer a day randomly won a discount on their gas. As I was pumping, the pump flashes that I've won a half-price discount (WOOHOO!), but it wants me to swipe my ID, and suddenly I realize that it's LEM's ID we signed up with for their little promotion, and he's not with me, so I can't get the discount, and I was sad. Then I woke up. This is relevant, because when I got in the car this morning to head to work, I was therefore shocked to see my Get Gas Stupid light on.. hadn't I already gotten gas??? Oooh yeah, stupid dream. I forgot to mention the total for my gas in the dream was $89, AFTER the discount. I figure the way gas prices are going, this will probably be accurate in a couple months.

I stopped to get gas, and chose the cheapest, don't-have-to-mortgage-your-house-to-afford car wash they offered. It was the uber basic one, still cost $7. Pumped my gas, and drove around to the back of the station for the car wash.

Some car washes are all automated, where you punch in your receipt number and it wisks you along inside the building. This one you have to wait for the attendant. He came over, and I handed him my receipt. I then thought he would motion me to drive forward to get my tire hooked by the little dragging mechanism they have. WRONG. He then goes over and gets a long scrub brush out of a big soapy bucket of water, and proceeds to start scrubbing the back window and back of the van. No big deal, I thought, it makes sense since the van is sort of flat there so I'm sure the automated swirly brushy thingies can't really get it clean. And then he started on the sides. And the front.

At this point, I'm feeling awkward. Did Basic mean "by hand"?? I quickly note that it's mid-40's temp outside, and although grey and gloomy out not technically raining so at least he's not scrubbing in the rain, or freezing his tush off. He spends a good 5 minutes scrubbing all parts of the van. I'm desperately trying to NOT make eye contact because wow, that job must really suck and I'm feeling rather guilty for even GETTING a car wash because who knew it would force some poor shmuck to scrub my huge minivan by hand.. why do I have a car this big??? He finally gets done and let's me get pulled into what now seems to be the Car Rinse, not car wash. But it didn't end there.

As my car emerged from the other side, he's WAITING THERE for me, squeegie in hand. He then proceeds to squeegie and cloth off as much of the rinse water on my van as possible. Now I feel guilty for not just telling him I'm going to hop on to the freeway in a few minutes and it can air dry so please oh my god STOP trying to get every speck of water off!! And then I'm wondering if the guys that work there draw straws and whoever loses has to work car wash for the day. He finally got done and of COURSE there's a sign that says "Tips welcome" but I never carry cash and I've already paid $7 for this so now I feel guilty because he actually did work marginally hard, and probably makes minimum wage. Great now I feel like an asshole.

p.s. As I started driving on the freeway to work, I was munching on a breakfast of baby carrots, and I got one that had those nasty bitter green ends, so without really thinking I tossed it out my window (it's biodegradeable!). And then I realize there's a cement barrier there, and it's just going to lie on the INNER part of the freeway, so that when some poor woodland creature emerges from the forest on the OTHER side of the road, and attempts to get the carroty morsel, they will get completely SPLATTED by the busy traffic. OH GREAT JOB ME. I blame the Guilt Wash, I wasn't thinking clearly.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Frozen in Time

As you go through your life on this earth, you come in to contact with so many people. Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even the people you watch on tv and movies become People You Know.

If you picture your life as a line, then all those other People You Know's lines intersect yours at some point. It could be they run alongside each other for your whole life, or theirs, or maybe they only touch briefly.

During that time when the lines touch, you KNOW something about that other person. It could be what they look like, how they act, what kind of music they are into, shared experiences, etc.
Maybe you watched one season of a show, so for that brief time you "knew" those actors, what they looked like at that time, those characters.

When your lines diverge from each other, what you know about each other may no longer be accurate. That old high school friend may have been a heavy-set person in their youth, but has since gotten more fit and looks very different. You may even have someone else tell you this, but you can't actually update the picture in your brain of that person without actually seeing it. In your head, they are forever remembered a certain way, and until you see them again your brain cannot concretely imagine them any other way.

This can apply to things as trivial as actors you love in a show, when the show ends and you don't see them again for a long time, then suddenly they are there and Oh My God they're OLD! And their hair is different?! They're fat now! When did this all happen?? It just seems like a minute ago they were young. Your brain just got an update on them, and has to process the new information to catalogue it and put it into the little box it keeps for that person. We were just watching the first couple episodes of Dexter last night, and Denise Crosby was on it. She played Tasha Yar in the first season of Star Trek: Next Generation many years ago. I haven't seen her since, so it was very jarring to see her older, with wrinkles and heavier set. Now that's how I'll see her in my mind's eye from this point on.

It can also apply more personally. Someone you know dies, and although you continue on, their line stops. My brother and mother are both dead. They are forever in my head as they were when they were alive. They will never age. They will never change. My brother is forever pulling coins from behind ears, and juggling, and going on enthusiastically about That game or That music. My mother is forever walking in the woods, pointing out nature to me, painting, forever suffering from various health issues. I clearly remember how they looked in death, but my brain rejects that as a temporary state, it wasn't what they REALLY were. They are frozen in time and will not get an "update" in this lifetime.

I don't think having People You Know frozen in time is necessarily a bad thing. It's just something our weird brains do as a way to keep track of stuff. It's a little sad that as you get older, this happens more and more as people drift apart or die. I guess that's just life.