If I’m going to be a good baseball tutor to the high school kid I was hired to tutor in baseball, we’re going to need a batting cage to practice his hitting in. My student Lucas knew of one down in Alhambra, which turned out to be a combination batting cage/car wash run by a cool latino family with who we were on a first-name basis even before Lucas hit a single baseball.
Me and Lucas finally did get into the cage and started working – he so needs to relax up on his swing and let things happen naturally – when suddenly an ambulance and fire truck pulled up. And not so they could get washed. They had their sirens blaring and paramedics jumped out of them the minute they stopped.
Lucas and I went to see what was going on…and it was a little scary when Lucas translated the explanation of one of the two guys who worked at the car wash who weren’t related to the owners. (Lucas took a couple years of Spanish in his fancyass private school. Their housekeeper, Lupe, also insists that he and his sister speak Spanish with her. That’s so cool and so smart. And comes in handy, as we saw that night.)
So the dude said that Eric, the older of Chuy’s (that’s the owner) sons, had gotten caught in one of the car wash machines. Ok, that sounded seriously scary, so it was a big relief when we saw Eric being loaded into the ambulance and not looking like he was bleeding to death or had his head cut off. From the words he was using, it was clear he was in a shitload of pain, but it could have been a lot worse. Those machines were designed for 2000 pound cars, not 160 pound teenagers.
So Eric’s mom, Aracely, got into the ambulance with him, and his dad and little brother were getting in their car to follow them. Then Chuy’s brother Abel came running over from the taco truck he has with his wife half a block away. Chuy wanted Abel to run the car wash while they were at the hospital, but Abel wanted to go with them. This was all going on in really fast really excited Spanish with lots of hand gestures.
We were just standing what we thought was out of the way, but we were close enough for Lucas to get some of what they were saying. Then Chuy noticed us and said:
“Hunter, they teach you how to run a cash register where you work?”
“Yeah…,” I said, wondering why he was asking about the Gap when his son was in an ambulance.
“Then you’re in charge. Take care of the place. I trust you and the muchachito.”
Then he started the car and drove away.
“Ok, I am not a muchachito,” Lucas said after they’d gone. We’d just been left in charge of some dude we’d met less than an hour ago’s business…and that’s what he was worrying about?
I was just kinda standing there looking like a pig in a Honeybaked Ham parking lot when one of two guys who were still left there working signed for us to come over.
“Si, jefe?,” one of them asked with a smile. “A sus ordenes.” (Keaton helps me when I gotta write something in Spanish. I always thought the word for “boss” started with an H.)
I just shrugged, Lucas shrugged, they shrugged, and we all started to laugh.
Then we had to get back to business.
The guys – we never did catch their names – were working on two cars that had come off the line. In the meantime, another two cars (including mine, which was getting a free wash) needed to be driven off the line, one car was inside, one was waiting to go in, and one was waiting to be vacuumed.
That makes a total of 7 cars. It was around 8:30 at that point, and the place closes at 9 – and shows what a good idea it is to keep your car wash open that late.
Ok, so now you gotta try and imagine two super super super white boys in charge of a car wash in Alhambra. I reckoned I needed to be at the register, since I know how to run a Verifone machine, but that made us short at least one body outside. On top of that, nobody ever taught Lucas how to wash a car. I mean he was totally clueless. I know washing a car isn’t hard, but you do need to know how to do it, and Lucas was doing things like drying the sides of the car before the roof, so that, when he dried the roof, the sides of the car got all wet again. And don’t even get him started on getting antennas back where they belong lol.
It was also dang cold, and not the time you’d want to be in soaking wet clothes, which is what Lucas’ clothes were in about five minutes. So I jumped in with the guys doing the detailing and told Lucas to go vacuum. Then he came to tell me that another car had driven up, so I had to run back to the register, where I probably almost electrocuted myself because by then my clothes were soaking too.
I decided to make that our last car for the night. I didn’t want to turn away Chuy’s business, but it was getting on closing time, and we had our hands full. By the time we were done, Lucas even learned how to dress tires with Armor All. The customers looked like they were going away pleased, even if they were probably wondering why two super white boys were working in a car wash in that neighborhood.
When we were done with our last customer, the two guys insisted we divide up the tips we’d gotten (I reckon that was the first time Lucas ever got a tip.) Then they turned off the machines and went home.
The problem was that me and Lucas didn’t have keys or anything and we couldn’t leave the car wash open. I didn’t even know how Chuy counted out the register, or I’d have done that for him.
We were also freezing our asses off in our wet clothes. Like a dingus, I’d worn Vans (yeah, Hunter Block Surfer Dude lol), so my feet were soaked and freezing too. Since we had nothing else to do, we each took a batting cage and hit balls for another half hour. I looked over and saw that Lucas’s swing was starting to loosen up, and I had an awesome time hitting more baseballs than I’d swung at in a year.
Finally – and I mean finally, since it was almost 9:45 – a woman who said she was Mirna, Chuy’s sister-in-law, came over carrying two big plates of tacos for me and Lucas. She apologized for leaving us waiting, but, since everyone else had gone with Eric to the hospital she had to close the taco truck up before she could come over and relieve us. (Good thing she had the keys to the car wash.)
Oh yeah, the tacos were awesome. I may have a new favorite taco truck. She brought us gringo tacos – so no lengua or cabeza – but especially the tacos al pastor were amazing. I reckon Lucas is a little less adventurous with his tacos than I am, since he did ask what was in them (never do that lol), but he looked plenty full when he was done eating.
Only the last thing we needed were two big cups of ice cold horchata.
The shitbox looked great after being washed, but I had no idea what we were going to tell Lucas’ mom when I got him back home after 10:30 on a school night. Earlier on, Lucas called her and said he would be late, but things were too crazy for him to be able to give her a clear explanation. When we got to the house, I went in with him, to vouch for his story…which I wouldn’t have blamed Mrs. Andrews for not believing. At least we had our still wet clothes as evidence. And a rag Lucas had stuck in his back pocket and forgotten about.
Lucas’ mom did believe us, and it didn’t look like Lucas was gonna get in trouble. But I could tell she wasn’t liking the idea that her son was now working in a car wash. The funny thing is that I reckon Lucas enjoyed it. I don’t think he wants to do it every day, but he was getting into the Armor All. We certainly had an adventure, and now he can wash his own car in the driveway. If his parents let him.
Oh yeah, we’re clearly never going to have to pay for batting cage time ever again lol. We may even have free tacos for life too.
After that, I drove home. The first thing I did was grab a beer, then I had a super hot shower and got into sweats and slipper socks because I was still cold from the soaking I got.
Then I reckoned I was warmed up enough to make myself a sundae.
Mirna gave us her number before we left, so we could find out how Eric was in the morning. Turns out it could have been a lot worse. He had a concussion and a broken arm, but luckily the break wasn’t bad enough to need a cast, just one of those splint things. So no car washing for him for a while. Maybe Chuy’ll hire Lucas to take Eric’s place lol.
Oh yeah – no sooner had me and Lucas worked washing cars that that whole mess of rainy weather hit last week.
No rain checks.