A B.A. Doesn’t Get You Out of Washing Cars

Monday, May 24, 2010
What do you do with a B.A. in English? -- Princeton, Avenue Q

The summer after I graduated from college, I worked at a canoe outfitters. I did a lot of things when I worked there, namely transporting guests to the starting points of their canoe trips and spending a lot of time in the packing room, putting together the guests’ food packs. There was a lot of cleaning involved in the job too and often times, when we were getting low on priority things to do, we were asked to clean the vans that we used to transport guests.

I feel far enough removed from the experience to safely admit that I disliked . . . . no, I abhorred washing and cleaning the vans. It just wasn’t much fun. I hated trying (and usually failing) to get all of the windows completely smudge free. I disliked crawling around the filthy floors with a Shop-Vac.

Indeed, I got pretty good at finding something else to do whenever I feared some van cleaning might be in order. I had a college degree after all. Let the lowly high school graduate (sorry Andrew) take one for the team and scrub down the vans. I didn't spend four years getting a B.A. for nothing. Heck, no was I going to make my living washing cars.

And still . . .

I have known for a while now that my car is certifiably disgusting. Still, I was waiting for the “big ah-ha” that would signal it was time to actually wash the car. When you live pretty far out of town and your driveway is gravel, it can seem pointless to wash your car: it’s just going to get dirty again. But  when I realized I was mildly embarrassed to pick up my car from the mechanic this afternoon, I knew my car was approaching a state of filth that warranted washing. 

As I approached the car, it became apparent. My car was not close to needing to be cleaned; it needed to be cleaned.

There’s been a lot of pollen in the air and what wasn’t in the air, was apparently on my car. That was kind of gross.

But the real clincher was when I realized my car so resembled a bit of nature that a bunch of diarrhea-stricken birds had decided to converge on it in the mechanic’s parking lot.

The abundance of bird shite forced me to take a good hard look at the Corolla, inside and out.

A lot of the gravel driveway had migrated onto the floor.

There had been some trips to town when the coffee jumped out of the mug. (We have travel mugs, we just usually can’t find them.)

So I washed my car. And I Windexed the windows and wiped down the dusty, dusty dashboard. I vacuumed out the whole car. Of course, it really didn’t take that long.

Here’s the shiny Corolla. A bit less sparkly after the 60-mile drive home from town, but sooooo much better.

What do you do with a B.A. in English? Well, for one thing, you can wash cars.

1 comment:

  1. I need to wash my car too. Somehow, I'm just not that motivated today. I have other errands to run.

    I love the Pablo Picasso quote you have there. I might have to borrow it for my blog.


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