Here’s the preamble: I once read a story about a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who was being lowered onto a ship to rescue the crew. The rescue swimmer was being lowered from a helicopter and the sea was angry. Next thing the guy knows, it is pitch black and very hot. He recalls that he thought maybe he had died and gone to hell. He was joking of course. Turns out they lowered him directly into a smokestack on accident. Very funny. Now that you know this story is forever in my head, we can continue.
So there I was–pulling cars out of the wash tunnel and driving them into the dry/vac stations as if I was Jeff Gordon pulling into the pits. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that I drive with precision. Back wheel at the vacuum every time.
Then I run back to the tunnel, not quite a full sprint–though faster than I ever thought I’d have to move on the clock–and wait for the next car to make it past the blowers so I can climb in. Over and over again. Then it happened. (Oh, here you should know that I get my kicks out of trying to time pulling open the driver’s door precisely with the door clearing the last blower). I think the particular vehicle in this case was a Land Rover. I pull the handle and jump in. Darkness. Lights out. I can still hear, but I can’t see shit. What the hell?
Of course, my first thought is a reassuring one. I immediately think of the rescue swimmer being lowered into the hot darkness. That calms me as, like it turned out for him, I seriously doubt that the lack of light means I died. Near simultaneous to realizing what happened, a second–more pressing–thought develops: “Is anybody watching me?”
You see, I wear a stocking cap. (First, its winter. Second, I lost my hair in the war and don’t want skin cancer). It isn’t the beanie kind that when pulled on requires no fold, but the kind that when pulled all the way on almost covers your whole face. To remedy this problem, you fold a couple inches of it up. As it turns out, there is no longer any doubt that the blower is strong enough to blow the folded part of a stocking cap down. Please, really, just picture the scene. Don’t stop with picturing a grown-ass man sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with a stocking cap covering his entire face. Actually attempt to see through the fabric and picture my face. The confused look. Then, pure unadulterated joy. I’m still grinning ear-to-ear now. I can’t even remember anything else that happened after that.