the old guy,toad junior, and the buick

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He was young. Probably too young to know he could have been a body double in the movie American Graffiti for the character of Toad if he’d been born forty years sooner… Somethings are timeless – Take  horn rim glasses for instance… Long live Buddy Holly… Oh, and Elvis Costello.

I’m not sure why I don’t get my truck washed more often? I should. I never fail to find a story in the struggle of life every time I visit a car wash, and this trip was no exception.

A good ole’ fashioned Arizona dust storm kicked up the desert floor so it looked like as much dirt overhead as underfoot. When the sky started to cry, the winds lost momentum and it started to rain mud. I waited till every other car in the city was clean before I got around to turning my tan truck white again and get the thin layer of desert floor off my dash.

Toad Junior just happened to be working in the car wash assembly line as the last person to use the air hoses to blow the water out of the tough to get to spots on the cars and trucks. He also had the duty of scrubbing the writing off the driver’s side window that spelled out the type of wash and the person’s name and then bellow out the person’s name while waving a red towel around in the air like a lasso.

I took the old guy’s seat after he’d gotten up to answer Toad Junior’s bidding… Sometimes you can just feel a story getting ready to unfold. The older Buick was in pretty good shape and the old guy’s pride in the aging car could be spotted with ease. It was more than just another car to the proud Buick owner. Toad Junior? Not so much, to him it was just another car of probably a hundred he’d scrub and yell over that day.

The white-haired man used his gold glasses to get a close up of his pride and joy. Toad Junior stood by the driver’s door waiting to give the patented niceties and send another satisfied customer down the road… until the Buick owner stood at the front grill pointing, brow shriveling.

Toad Junior pulled his handy-dandy squirt bottle like a pistolero hanging in his back pocket like a holster. Spray, scrub, presto! Toad Junior figured out in short order that it was a full-blown battle and there would be no holstering his tool anytime soon. After a thorough proofing of the outside the old guy began to inspect the interior. After squirting and scrubbing the majority of the inside, Toad fetched the heavy artillery of the air hose and finished off the interior like a hero.

Finally satisfied, the old guy reached into his pocket and pulled out the boy’s reward. He grabbed both ends of the dollar bill and pulled tight, snapping the buck like a flag as if that might make the young man even happier or the one dollar magically worth more. Toad Junior accepted the tip about waist-high and stared at it for a few seconds before offering a sarcastic, “Thanks,” and stopped just short of rolling his eyes behind his horn rims.

Expectations are a funny thing… Toad Junior’s expectations reminded me of mine along with most of us. We expect things sometimes without the obligation of others and then show our annoyance verbally and otherwise, and it’s never flattering to the One we serve.

With Toad Junior several miles behind me, I shook my head and grinned to myself when I realized the thin layer of the desert floor was resting comfortably on my dashboard. And still is…