Jewish World Review May 3, 2004 / 12 Iyar, 5764
Cleaning up in life
His name was Jose. I think.
And I only think that because people around him kept snapping that.
"Jose, hurry up!"
"Jose, keep a move on it!"
"Jose, what the heck are you doing?"
It was a car wash. Nothing fancy. Not too far from my home. I had decided take the dirty four-wheeler sitting disgustingly in the garage of my home.
So, to the car wash I went. But this isn't any car wash. In my town, this car wash is legendary. This car wash is a factory. You drop the car off on what is essentially a conveyor belt. Swarms of men and women busily vacuum the inside just before the car makes its way onto the belt and receives the first application of suds. Then the car's waxed and coated, polished and shined, and ultimately dried and released. Finally it's given a quick lick, promise and push out the driveway by another swarm of men and women at the other end.
It takes just minutes. Speed is crucial. Keeping the inventory moving is even more crucial. All the workers know that. All of them, that is, except Jose.
He is not like the swarms. He is not into a quick lick and promise. Jose is more thorough. He cleans what others miss. He takes pains over what others ignore. It seems to drive his co-workers crazy. They are forever snapping at him, imploring him, no . . . demanding him to move on. They are fed up because Jose won't speed up.
He seems neither to understand nor care about these demands, whether they're barked in English or the Spanish that seems to be his native language.
"Uno momento," he shouts, as he struggles with one stubborn dried ketchup stain in the back seat.
"I get that for you," he tells me in broken English. I almost feel badly for him. I, too, am feeling the pressure to move product, and here it is my product, my car with the stubborn ketchup stain. I, too, feel Jose should let it go.
But not Jose. He scrubs it. Really scrubs it. And finally, he removes it. I reach in my pocket for some singles to reward his effort. I had just put some money into a central "tip box," presumably meant for all the workers. But Jose, I figured, deserved more.
But again, not Jose. He waved my money away and jutted his finger to the central tip box. "There! There!" he shouts. He will have no special treatment. He will accept no special rewards.
It seems odd the workers who blast him care little that he is forever thinking of them. They just hurry him, push him, some laughing at him.
But Jose pays no heed. He sweats. And he smiles. And in the end, all he says is, "Hope you like."
"Thank you," I tell him. He nods. Then he dashes to the next car. The conveyor belt has stopped. There is a backup now.
Jose no doubt caused it, but I've got a much cleaner, better car because of it.
I want to come back to this car wash. Not because of the others but because of Jose. I just hope and pray he'll still be there when I do.
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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News
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© 2003, Neil Cavuto