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Fred J

Steve's Freebie - A Priceless Moment in smart History.

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"originally written by s_mack on another site, reposted here with his permission"

It was a dark and quiet winter night. Maybe a little too quiet. There I was, minding my own business and going over my post-nondenominational holiday credit card bills, when a small glossy piece of paper slipped out of one of the envelopes, just between the credit statement and the undersized pre-addressed return enclosure that one can't help but to abhor because of what it represents.

There it was, just sitting on my lap where it landed, looking up at me delighted in the possibility that it may actually achieve its purpose, where so many of its kind repeatedly fail. And so it should, as I usually dismiss such wastes of vegetable-based inks on 40% post-consumer recycled paper - though I do appreciate the ironic statements of environmentalism - but something caught my fancy about this one. It could have been the vibrant reds, or the subtly italicized sans-serif fonts... or perhaps the lovely scents you can only achieve by mixing underpaid labored hand-stuffed sweat with cheap print-shop solvents - but no, it was the large bold letters that can excite every man from every walk of life... "FREE".

"Nothing is free", I gruffed, as I casually flipped it aside into the ever-growing mound of soon-to-be-100%-post-consumer-recyled paper pile... and as I turned my eyes back to the ominous task at hand I couldn't help but to wonder, "but what if it is?". Indeed... what if I had done something in the past to earn a reward and that by passing up this "free" offer I would be tossing aside the spoils of war that is every day life! This could be something truly great, something every man dreams of... something.... something for nothing!

I am nothing if not curious, a vice that has long plagued me despite numerous childhood warnings involving gruesome tales of murderous feline horrors and a rather misfortuned monkey who had the injustice from his parents naming him George. But I could not draw the strength to leave this alone - I had to examine this shiny processed pulp more closely. I had to know what I could possibly be given for free and what the proverbial catch was.

Examined it closely I did. No print too fine, no legal trickery too doctored to decipher... there was no way to misinterpret this, this was FREE!

"Wahoo!", I exclaimed without any regard for how ridiculous such a statement would sound even if there were someone around to hear me, "It's really free!". I could barely contain myself but who could blame me? In a world where everyone takes and never gives, and after decades filled with words of wisdom by my elders stating that there IS NO free lunch... I say, "eat this lunch old man!"

Not a lunch exactly, but a carwash. A free carwash! A free "The Works" carwash at that! Life has never been so sweet! And what timing! After a week of Old Man Winter's worst had spread slush and dirt and salt all over my concrete and asphalt world, my smart needed "The Works" in the worst imaginable way.

Grabbing my keys and sliding on my shoes, I bolted through the door with my gleaming prize in hand with such speed that I neglected to don appropriate attire for such a bitter cold night. No matter... the fires that burn within me will provide warmth enough, for today I experience FREEDOM! My mind was racing so much that I hardly remember engaging the brake long enough to slide the shifter from R to N while I turned the centrally positioned key from 0 to 1 and finally to 2, igniting the fury of my passion with a distinctive rumble that only 800 cubic centimeters of carefully crafted German engineering and French manufacturing could produce. Getting to the carwash was a blur, but I knew when I had arrived because the glorious neon signage matched my certificate's colour exactly! There was no mistaking it, my free ride was near.

What I hadn't expected, was that ride - while indeed free - was going to be the ride of my life.

To be continued...

Chapter 2

Arriving at the carwash/gas station had none of the fanfair I had come to half expect - there were no marching bands, no cordoned off streets with uniformed officers to guide traffic, no oversized men with oversized bellies holding oversized scissors or oversized keys... just the usual gathering of motorists filling their thirsty steeds and taking second and third looks at my smart as I pulled in. Parking in a designated area humorously marked "small car", I exited my vehicle and entered the brightly lit establishment. Again taken aback by the lack of ceremony, I approached the young lady standing casually behind the counter and boldly handed the clerk my carefully handled certificate and confidently stated, "I am here to claim my FREE 'The Works' car wash". I smiled contently as she relieved me of my ticket and entered a few keys into her computer, which spat out a less colourful certificate with a 5-digit number on it.

She handed me that certificate and said, "here you go - just be sure your left wheels are on the rail and follow the instructions".

My smile remained as I graciously accepted the fragile encoded slip, but I couldn't help but to feel a little disappointed as I came to the sinking conclusion that I was not the only one that day to exchange my boldly coloured miniature poster for this monochrome version. The carwash was still free, but somehow I now felt a little less special. No matter! my passion would still sparkle!

Exiting the structure, I was once again reminded of how frigid it had gotten outside and how useful a warm coat would have been. Boarding my ride once again, I headed for the entrance to the wonderful automated carnaval ride that was to become my free carwash!

With a slight touch of the well positioned button, I lowered my window and carefully aligned my left wheels with the floor mounted railings and slowly moved forward toward the sign that read, "Stop here".

"THANK YOU," the amazingly loud for its size speaker blared, "for purchasing a car wash!". "Please enter your 5-digit wash code using the keypad," it commanded. After each press of the button, the friendly but shouting robot voice exclaimed my choices to anyone within a 100 metre radius, "FIVE!... EIGHT!... FOUR!... FOUR!... TWO!" It confirmed. "THANK YOU," it shouted again before the red stop light indicator changed to green. "LEAVE YOUR ENGINE RUNNING, SHIFT INTO NEUTRAL AND DON'T TOUCH YOUR STEERING WHEEL OR BRAKE," it shouted loudly, "AND RELAX". The last bit wasn't nearly as comforting as it surely was meant to be.

I considered backing out. But how could I? It would be an injustice at this point - after coming so far - to not live out my dream of receiving something for free... truely for free. I ultimately chose to be brave and continue.

A choice that will forever haunt my dreams.

To be continued...

Chapter 3

Clearly I was in over my head. I had imagined bikini-clad women carefully hand washing my body panels with mild detergents and sterilized water. Of course, had I stopped to think more thoroughly, I would have realized this to be absurd given the temperature, but it did say "the works" after all.

Even as I approached the dark chasm of machinery, I still envisioned that I would have complete control of the journey - but this was not to be the case. "Shift into neutral," the machine had commanded and so I did. "Don't use the brakes or steer," it barked... so it was out of my hands.

The railing that I had so carefully positioned my left wheels over, as it turned out, would take control of my ride by periodically lurching my vehicle forward in several second intervals. At first, it did this quite regularly while the imaginary space where a normal car's hood would occupy was being washed. Then, as my windshield was covered in a slightly purple foam, I could barely see as a large whirling brush descended upon me thrusting me into complete darkness.

I barely noticed as the railing lurched me forward once more to the point that I was now surrounded by whirling brushes and purple foam. This really was "the works". As frightened as I was, I was also exhilarated! The ingenuity... the design... it was most impressive! I sat as calm as I could as the brushes whirled for one minute... then two... then five...

I know it is "the works", but how long could this take? I periodically heard a buzzer sound, and felt a slight bump underfoot, but nothing new was happening. The brushes continued to swirl, the foam continued to spray. Eight minutes... ten...

The bikini girls surely would have been finished by now! Twelve minutes... fifteen minutes... something is amiss! But what was I to do? Trapped in a swirling mass of purple hell, I could not stand a chance of survival if I were to attempt an exit. And the robot commanded that I remain in neutral. Besides, a frontal assault with the accelerator could mean uncertain doom as I had no idea what was in front, or behind for that matter, of my car!

Seventeen minutes had passed, and I concluded it was time for action. So I laid on the horn for several seconds and repeated at regular intervals. But when I heard the machine's buzzer sound again, and was noticeably louder than my signal - I realized I should have opted for the upgraded "fan fare" horn. It was no use. No one would hear my plea.

"The receipt!" I exclaimed. Perhaps the receipt had a phone number imprinted on it and I could telephone the young clerk for assistance! No such luck as it only had the now greatly regretted 5-digit wash code imprinted on it. "Damn it!" I shouted.

My only recourse in this incredibly unfortunate and equally embarrassing dilemma was to telephone my girlfriend, which I did. "No time to explain, " I grumbled, "I need the telephone number for this car wash". She was puzzled, but sensed the urgency and promptly supplied me with the data I required.

It took another several minutes to explain to the clerk who, and where, I was - but eventually the swirly masses ceased and the foam slowly cleared. I could once again see light. Although it was a dark day indeed.

The mechanism, it was explained to me, was not designed for a vehicle with such a short wheel base - and it was unable to propel me further along the wash tunnel. Apologies abound, along with giggles and jests. The manager appeared, a little oversized in the belly but still lacking the scissors, to offer whatever assistance he could and to repair whatever damage had arisen.

Thankfully, the only lasting damage would be to my pride and the nightmares I will suffer from this indignity.

The only comforting reminder I have from this harrowing experience, is the small shiny certificate the manager handed me, boldly stating again, "FREE!".

The End.

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This is a good one for the general forum... where'd we move it from?

I loved that story. I sent that link to some smart specialists when it first appeared.

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I can't remember where I moved it from. Fred posted it (thank you thank you), and I didn't even find it until a while later. I thought that it should be in General Discussions. This is also something that I would like to post on the web site, with Steve's permission.

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I have a coupe It's tomato red and the cell is black. That story isn't true I hope, or anything near it. Mine will have to get washed soon so i will find out.

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Oh lord, where'd you dig that up from?:)To those that don't know I am (or... was) s_mack, the "author" of that. Yeah, that was back in "the day" lol Good times... good times. About it being "true" well, there was artistic license taken, but it was "based on actual events" we can say. - Stevenps. Can you dig up my other story about things that go PEEP in the night? I can hardly remember anything about the story except that someone pointed out I misspelled "Dessert" Eagle so it should be easy to find but I can't. It was complete fiction. Written around the same time as the car wash story back when I had too much time on my hands!

Edited by SmartieParts

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Hard to believe it takes two days and change now to get a reply on a thread like this blast from the past.

Also hard to believe what my next new topic will be called tomorrow.....

'And then there was '1' again...'

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Ok Keith it is tomorrow, spill the beans!

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