February 28, 2009

Car Wash Rant #1

If you've just waited in line behind four cars, have three more behind you in line, and see me running back and forth doing the jobs of three people, I really don't have time to chat while selling you your wash. Especially about how busy we are...

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What I know

They say you should write about what you know. I run a car wash. Unfortunately, as a result of this (and I suspect it's true with almost any retail job) I know that many people are idiots. Not enough to make me go on a killing spree... but close.

I was working on a nice long rant. But it started to get too long. So I'll be breaking it up into little Car Wash Rants.


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February 25, 2009

Rant, delayed.

About halfway through the day, I had a nice long rant about running a carwash all blocked out in my head. Something along the lines of: “Thoughts from the entrance of a carwash.”

But frankly, I’m too tired.

I’m just glad that my main character on World of Warcraft is a hunter, not a healer. I really feel like killing stuff tonight.

Posted by GEBIV at 07:49 PM | Comments (2004) | TrackBack

February 19, 2009

I believe this is how Congress wants us to think

Here at my family’s business, one of my main duties is to run the Car Wash. You know the guy who collects the money, enters the wash into the computer and pre-sprays the car before it gets sent through on the conveyor? That’s me. (On slow days, I’m also the person down at the other end of the car wash tunnel drying the cars off too… but only on really slow days.)

One of the few fringe benefits we can offer our employees at the other parts of the business, (bakery, mini-mart, gas station) are half off discounts on washing their cars. Any employee can get half off of any wash, from the $6.50 basic wash; to the top of the line, two re-wash included Triple Super Wash ($16.00, tax included). We don’t have a lot of non-family employees, but they all take advantage of the discount every other week or so. They’re happy to get something for a good price, we’re happy they’re still working.

You may ask, “What’s this all leading to?”

Good question.

Last week, at the end of her shift, one of our store employees pulled around to the car wash with a ½ off wash receipt for the top-of-the-line Triple Super. Three step wax (foam, high-pressure, sealer), rim and wheel cleaner, chassis bath and rust inhibitor, soap, water, hand dried – the works. With two pre-paid-at-a-massive-discount re-washes!

In fact, the only difference between the $16 Triple Super Wash and the regular $10 Super Wash is the pre-paid re-washes. The deal is you get a big discount on pre-paying for the re-washes. You pay only $16 for $30 worth of washes. The catch, you have to use them within 10 days.

If you buy this from me, I’ll ask you if you’re going to come back within the 10 days, because I’d rather you bought the $10 wash than spend $16 and feel like you paid for something you weren’t going to be able to use.

(Sorry for all the exposition, but it’s kind of important for the point of the story.)

So, as I enter the code into the wash computer, and start filling in the re-wash information, Marie (not her real name, but I like the name Marie… and I can imagine her talking in a sultry French accent. I’m also imagining someone who looks more like a young Audrey Hepburn, but that has no real bearing on the story.) says, “Oh, you don’t have to do that, I’m not going to use the re-washes.”

“Well, why didn’t you just get the regular Super Wash?” I asked.

“Because I get a bigger discount this way.”

I wasn’t speechless, but I did sputter a little bit as I tried to wrap my mind around how paying $8 was better than paying $5. And it took me several tries before I was able to convince Marie that while she was saving more off of the wash, she was paying more too.

Later, this got me thinking about taxes (as, unfortunately, lots of things do) and how Congress wants us to think about them. They try to get us focused on the pittance they’re giving back to us, via the Spendulous Bill, and hope we don’t notice the massive increased tax burden they’re simultaneously imposing.

“Look!” they say. “We’re giving you back $400!”

“Yes,” we reply, “but you’re charging us $1000 more in taxes.”

“But, look! $400!” they keep saying, while waving the fanned bills at us. “Take it! You can spend it!”

“We could have spent the $1000 you took from us in the first place if you hadn’t taken it.” We argue.

“Ok. You win,” they say, with a chagrinned face, hoping you don’t notice the sly look in their eyes. “Here’s $500.”

“Gee, thanks… hey, why’s my tax increase $1200 now?”

I guess they’re hoping we don’t notice that last bit…

Posted by GEBIV at 03:27 PM | Comments (1994) | TrackBack

February 18, 2009


After being reminded by Blogfather Harvey that I once used to have a blog, I looked around for something to get me writing again… and found my Property Tax Bill.

I won’t get into the horror of the actual numbers, but suffice to say, I live in one of the most expensive towns of one of the most expensive counties in the most expensive state, tax wise. For what I just voluntarily handed over to the government yesterday, I could have purchased a very large flat screen TV. And a PS3 to go with it.

I don’t escrow my taxes for the same reason no one should use withholdings for their income tax. (I do, but only because I really don’t have a choice.) You don’t get really mad about how much they’re taking from you when it’s spread out over a whole year.

(As an aside, a good thing to do is make your own escrow account in a Municipal Fund or some other guaranteed interest account. Pay 1/12th of your taxes into it each month, then at the end of the year, you can pay your taxes and keep the interest. It helps a little. That’s almost exactly what the bank’s doing for you when your taxes are escrowed with your mortgage, but they keep the interest instead.)

If everyone had to write a check on the 15th-17th of February (depending on weekends and holidays) I don’t think we’d have as much complacency about how much our state and local governments are spending our money.

Kinda appropriate that the President signed the Spendulous Bill yesterday. Since there was no way he was going to wait till April 15th, Property Tax Day made a pretty good stand-in for Income Tax Day.

*Bend over, here it comes again.

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