I finally washed my car today, after several months of neglecting to do so. The accumulation of filth upon my car had seemed gradual, but I think it had lately reached a level where the amount of additional dirtiness necessary for me to perceive that it was actually becoming more dirty was severe.
I learned something about this fact of human perception, perhaps in my high school psychology class. When a stimulus is rather strong, the amount of increase necessary for humans to perceive the change becomes greater. I think the example I learned from back then was sugar in iced tea. If you have no sugar in the iced tea, after you add a heaping tablespoon you can notice the change. But once you've dumped half a cup of sugar into your iced tea, the addition of a tablespoon will not taste like much. Unfortunately I don't know what this phenomenon is called, so I cannot cite it here.
So anyway, my car had reached a level of dirtiness that caused additional dirtiness to be imperceptible. I started to feel embarrassed about the uncleanliness of my car. And in a series of events over the last several days, which included 1) dreading that my mother would see my dirty car when my parents came to attend my thesis defense, 2) attending a friend's wedding at a fancy house in the hills and having to hand my car over to (and pick it up from) valet attendants, and 3) deciding to park around the corner from my parents' place, so as not to smear our mothers day visit with dirt from my car. So this morning I knew what had to be done.
I pondered the manner in which I should wash my car. The first option was to wash it in our apartment's tiny parking lot -- once when I had talked to my neighbor about my dirty car with chagrin, he offered the hose he had for the water spout out back. Also I could take it to one of these hand car was places (although maybe they are a combination of machine and hand car wash) all over Los Angeles. But an investigative report that the Los Angeles Times printed a couple of months ago made me feel like these are shady operations. I didn't really want to get involved. Finally, I could take it to a coin-operated car wash and spraying it clean myself. There are also quite a few of these places around L.A. And option #3 is what I chose.
The coin-operated car was is a pretty good deal. It cost me $3, or 12 quarters, which is a pretty good deal considering that I spent $1 somewhat frivolously on 4 minutes of car VAC, not that there was so much dirt inside my car. So the wash itself was two bucks. The nozzle sprays different liquids. I used the spot free stuff (a foamy blue cleaner) and HIGH PRESSURE RINSE. The hose really sprays water out in a high pressure way. I felt as though, if bad guys approached or something, I could turn the hose on them and blast them into oblivion, or at least knock them onto their behinds. There wasn't a really good way to dry the car off afterwards. They didn't have any blow dry equipment as far as I could tell, though a couple people were using rags to wipe their cars down.
All in all, the car is now clean and I am proud. Why didn't I think of doing this a long time ago?
$2 coin-operated car wash. Small price to pay for a bit of self worth, confidence, pride.