LIFE IN OUR MOUNTAIN TOWN: Avoid the foaming brush | SierraSun.com
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LIFE IN OUR MOUNTAIN TOWN: Avoid the foaming brush

Katie Shaffer, Sierra Sun

It used to be that there were four bays that were available to wash your car at the local car wash.

These four bays were barely enough to service our local population of roughly 12,000 people. Then the car wash owners added the “touch-free” option in which you can drive through and not get out of your car. That reduced our already busy car wash for the rest of us to a mere three bays to use.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about our local car wash is the foaming brush. Some people think this brush is a great tool. Others, like me, disdain it as a time-consuming, unessential extra nuisance.

Recently, my husband and I were due to pick up our children at a local ski area at 3 p.m. At twelve minutes to three I sat in the passenger’s seat while my husband used the high pressure spray to do what I thought was going to be a quick wash. Then he switched over to the foaming brush. I shook my head back and forth and pointed to my watch trying to let him know, “Not the foaming brush! We don’t have time for that!”

I never use the foaming brush.

I prefer using the highly pressurized soap and rinse options which blast the dirt off of your vehicle. My trick is to hold the high pressure nozzle within inches of my car’s surface. Spraying my vehicle at such a close range seems to sufficiently clean it. I have been informed, however, that this technique runs the risk of peeling the paint off of my vehicle. I’ve never noticed any peeling paint except maybe on the bumper.

Then there are all those tourists from the Bay Area with their clean cars, who are also in line at the car wash and who really don’t need to wash their car as badly as you do. Unless they are heading straight home, I want to tell them that their car is just going to get even dirtier driving around on our freshly sanded roads up here.

There’s also that feeling you get when you’re driving down in the Bay Area with all those clean cars, and you are suddenly very aware of your splattered and dirty mountain car.

There’s the “touch-less” car wash at a local gas station, which I hear has ripped a few mirrors off of large trucks. Of course, they do have a sign warning you to pull in your mirrors.

It seems a misnomer to call a car wash “touch-less” or “touch-free” because your car has to be touched in some manner in order to be washed. Maybe this method refers to washing without the use of those menacing brushes.

There’s also that water at the car wash that has a peculiar smell, I think because it’s been recycled so many times.

Then there’s that beeping signal that goes off when your time is running out. You have to either quickly fumble for more quarters to feed into the machine in order to extend your time, or else you have to move more quickly, doing a hasty job on that last section of your car that still needs to be rinsed.

I have to admit, when I glance at the person in the car waiting behind me, especially as that beeping is sounding, I am quite confident that they are glad I didn’t use the foaming brush.

Apparently some people now have plastic cards that they carry, which they can handily swipe when the beeping goes off, to give them more time. I’ll have to check into that because often I am only prepared with a limited supply of quarters.

I like to kid my husband that he is a card-carrying member of the laundromat, which is where he goes to wash his work clothes sometimes. Now our family will be card-carrying members of the local laundromat and the car wash.

Having plastic cards in your wallet used to signify a certain measure of status. Times sure have changed.

I have a few friends who prefer to drive to Reno to get their car washed. They drive up, step out of their vehicle and watch as it’s whisked away. Then they shop for cards and knickknacks and buy a soda while their car is being vacuumed, washed, and waxed. They wait for it to be driven into view and watch as a crew hand-towels it dry. Then they drive off with a sparkling clean car.

I prefer the local method myself, although after writing this column, I’m not sure why!

Katie Shaffer has lived in

Truckee since 1981.


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