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American Spirit

I swear, all I do is work.

Even without a “job” I manage to put in twelve + hour days nearly every day. When did I ever have time to work? Web design is much like divorce lawyers, expensive but so worth it. The creative aspects are a blast but ultimately it is just work.  Nothing like working 50 hours to find out your file directory is corrupt and having to reconnect all 8132 of your referenced files… fun. But, progress is made and I think I have some great ideas for a unique user interface. That’s UI if you only speak in TLA (two/three letter acronyms).

Any way, all this reminded me of a guy I met, yesterday, at the car wash-Mac. He “works” there, he will tell you so.   Not in the paycheck, boss, employee etc sort of way. He just “works” there.  In his shopping cart, he has collected all of the things you would need to do a spiff wash job on your car.  Only he doesn’t have a car, or a house, or a “job”, or any objection to doing to doing what it takes to earn a buck.

His sales pitch is flawless, practiced but not canned.  His timing, honed.  He looks you straight in the eyes, smiles big, speaks confidently and gets straight to the point… not darting about or acting snarky or squidish like most salesmen can.

He is impossible to say no to, though if his is turned down, it doesn’t phase him.  He is off with a smile, a kind word, and down to the next bay with the next potential recipient of Macs fine services.

And a fine service it is.

Case in point- I unwittingly showed up with only a fifty dollar bill, but thought – the machine takes a debit card, no big deal. Not this day.   The stupid machine was out order and I was going to have to run over to convenience store across the street and beg them to break a fifty (if you have ever done this, you know that your odds are not good) or buy some crap I don’t want or need to get the bill broken. That’s when Mac made his approach- I saw him coming.  After his pitch, I told him that I could use hand but the machine was broken and I had to go get change.

Mac says to me ” Don’t worry about it, I got you covered.”

I did a full stop and then paused, looking into his grinning face.

“How much you need?”-smiling away.

Right there and then I was truly dumbfounded. Mac had unexpectedly pulled my preverbal rug out from under me and gone from a symbol of our terrible times to embodying everything good and true about America.  Mac was an entrepreneur, a business man and was about to sweep me off my feet.

“Ill just get it started, how much you want?” Mac heads over to the car wash controls and starts thumbing in quarters. “Five dollars?”

Shaking my head to get the brain thinking again, I follow him over.

“Yeah, sure.” I don’t know what else to say.  He plugs in the money and begins his whirlwind of washing and rinsing and wiping and drying…

As I stand there, occasionally stepping in, trying unsuccessfully to lend assistance, it occurs to me that Mac knows what he is doing and is quite abit more efficient without my help.

Ten minutes later, my Jeep is spotless, washed, dried, clean. Mac is cleaning and reorganizing the tools of his trade into his shopping cart and prepping for the next customer. He flashes me a big smile as I make my approach, ten dollar bill (feeling like way too little) in my hand. We share a laugh, some good tidings, I thank him for his work, hand him my ten dollars and leave.

I didn’t get too far though. Maybe it was disbelief on my part or just plain curiosity, but I had to witness more of this man in action. I pulled over to the convenience store across the street, fueled up, and bought a candy bar so that I could spy on the car wash for a bit.

Mac does a hell of a job, by the way. The prices is right too. Whatever you can afford.

I saw Mac spend 10 minutes washing and drying an old Dodge Aspen four door driven by an elderly couple, for free. They had no money, he knew it. He did it anyway. Just as pleasant and cheerful as ever.

Mac’s efforts earned him more than I can pay him. As I am sure it is with each and every customer. I wonder where he goes, after work, at night when the car wash is empty and he has put in his twelve hour day. I wonder because, maybe I could use a bit of Macs enthusiasm, his genuine concern and helpfulness, his spirit.

I don’t know.

I do know that this world could do with a whole lot more Macs and in all kind of business the Macs of this world will be successful. And, I know that whatever we do pay them, they will earn it, and then some.

Cheers to you Mac.

(West of Broadway on Alameda, by the way)


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