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Their Claim Has Fallen Flat(bed)

, , , , | Right | March 18, 2020

During the summer of 2010, I was hired by a locally-owned car wash that also served as a franchised car rental location and laundromat. It was the only commercial car wash in my town. The owner was an older gentleman with a frail voice who worked odd hours, essentially turning up to work as an extra pair of hands whenever he was bored of being retired from working there for literal decades. 

My very first shift at the car wash, he was training me. We offered three different kinds of washes: a coin pay-as-you-go self-wash, a touchless wash, and a full touch wash with spinning brushes and fabric strips.

The owner just finished teaching me how to fix the arm of the touchless wash if its calibration was off and it bumped into a vehicle. He even demonstrates how little force is needed to cause the arm to stop safely by breaking one of the safety fast-break dowels. It was a simple procedure of flicking a switch to return it to its base position and replacing the dowel. He then told me to man the cash register and try to up-sell the car wash voucher booklets we offered while he cleaned the self-service bays. 

I wasn’t alone for more than ten minutes before a woman came into the main office. She looked very upset, and before I could say a word she said that our car wash had damaged her car and she demanded compensation. I was quite confused by this, as I’d just been shown how the touchless wash’s arm breaks with such little force. The entire thing was wrapped in foam as well; it couldn’t so much as scratch the paint off of a car if you drove through it.

We left the office and she took me to the touch-wash instead of the touchless wash. I was gob-smacked to see that the woman’s pickup truck’s rear window had been smashed out by some kind of thin metal strip. 

I went to grab the owner and quickly brought him to our seething customer. He took one look at the damage to the truck and basically said, “Huh,” before going to inspect further. The whole time, the woman was raving about how she was going to need to be compensated for the window. The owner took one look in the back of the truck’s flatbed before looking up, smiling at the woman, and saying, “We won’t be paying you anything.”

The woman had left several of those thin strips of metal in her flatbed. The owner calmly pointed to the instructions next to the entrance to the carwash. It clearly stated that all objects must be removed from flatbeds prior to entering the wash. 

The woman threatened to take the owner to court, but he just smiled again and said in that weak and frail voice, “If you’re stupid enough to not read the instructions, you’d get laughed out of court.”

The woman drove off without her car wash or even a voucher and I never saw her again the summer that I worked there.