When you get more than you bargained for

I spent the weekend in Scottsdale. We were there for the 57th Annual Arabian Horse Show, which attracts thousands of owners and their horses each year in no-expense-spared form. Melissa was there to photograph the show for Arabian Horse World magazine, so I dropped her off Saturday morning to work her magic and went to check out a used digital piano I wanted to buy. (I ended up getting it.)

On the way, I stopped for gas at a Chevron station in Scottsdale. I always pay at the pump; it’s quick and painless, but I wasn’t in any rush so, when the prompt asked me if I wanted a car wash, I thought, “Why not? The car could use it.” $15.99 was the price of the wash, which I thought was a little pricey but not completely insanely, outlandishly pricey, so I went for it.

So, now I’d paid for gas, and a wash.

After filling, I drove over to the wash entrance, where a guy was waving me through. “Oh,” I thought, “it’s not a machine.” I pulled into a sort of staging area, where at least 20 cars were being processed through along with mine. I’ve never seen a car wash operation of such scale! A huge team of dudes were running all around the cars, frantically washing them, rinsing them, polishing them, waxing them. I saw some vacuums further down the line, so I guess I was now getting gas, a wash, and the interior vacuumed.

A bunch of guys attended to everything. One asked me, “Air freshener?”  I replied, “Uh, ok…”  He told me the options: ‘Beach Breeze’, ‘Mountain Air’, ‘New Car’. “Um, new car.” So I’d now gotten gas, a wash, a vacuum, and an air freshener.

“Sir?”  I turned around toward the voice that was addressing me now. “You see these three little cracks in your windshield?” (I knew about one of them.) “Yeah, we’ll get those repaired for you.”

Now, hold on a second. All I wanted was gas. But he explained it’ll cost me nothing, because the insurance will pay for it. Okay, but even if that’s true, surely it’ll affect my premiums? I left the car in the hands of the mighty hoard of worker ants, and went to the counter at the side, where at least 5 other people were being processed for windshield sealants. They put my insurance company on the phone to settle my questions. (I could tell they’d heard the questions a million times.)

My insurance company told me they’d cover the sealant with no cost to me, and that it wouldn’t affect my premiums. I asked them why they’d cover it so willingly, and the agent on the phone was honest: “Because it helps prevent it cracking further, and becoming a claim for an entire windshield replacement.” Okay, then. So, with the cost to me showing ‘$0’, I signed the thing. I had now gotten gas, a wash, a vacuum, an air freshener and a windshield repair.

I was told I could go wait in the attached McDonald’s, so I did, and ordered a burger for good measure. A few minutes later, my car rolled out the other side flanked by a few lanes of other shiny vehicles either side of it, with probably 50 still processing behind, and I hopped in and drove away. I sniffed. New car smell. I looked around. Clean. Windshield? Still intact. Fuel gauge and stomach? Both full.

And that, friends, is the story of how I stopped to get gas and ended up with… gas, a car wash, a vacuum, an air freshener, a windshield repair and a burger.

I love America.

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