Friday, April 06, 2007

On Men And Maidens

Pulling up to the self-serve car wash up the street from us, I was surprised to find an elderly man heading to my van after coming out the door that said "Attendant On Duty."

This is self-serve, I thought to myself as he walked towards my van.

Stopping several feet back from the automated car wash screen and buttons since this "attendant" had blocked me off by coming up to my window at just the right time, I put my window down to greet him.

We exchanged greetings and I found he was a nice, friendly old guy.

Then he asked if he could help me so I told him what I was going to do and he seemed to want to do it for me, even though the machine just 8 feet from my window was fully capable of being operated on by even a pregnant woman like me.

I handed him my credit card and he carried it carefully to the machine. Stepping back to get a good view of the slot, he aimed the card very accurately at the thin crack it was intended to go in. Then, he charged the card into the machine, giving a new meaning to "charge cards."

But, through the thrust of his hand and the depth of the card in the slot, he could not "quickly retrieve card" as I'm sure the screen was commanding him to do.

He pinched and pried, took a step back, sighed, took a hold of it with the other hand and tried it all over again. Then he turned around and headed back through the door that said, "Attendant On Duty."

Poor guy... that sign probably made him feel inadequate due to the impossible situation my card had just put him through. He wasn't being a very competent attendant.

He came back out with a key and a fancy tool.

With those instruments, he skillfully removed the entire face of the machine and swung it open. The edge of the card he was looking for could not be seen through the carefully constructed metal gadgets, wires and screws. Was he conquered? I wondered to myself.

He then closed the machine up and went back through the "Attendant On Duty" door and reinstated his attendance status by being on duty inside his office for a mere 2 seconds while retrieving a handy vice grip.

He headed back out the attendant's door and came to my open window.

"We have a serious problem," he confessed. "Your card is really stuck in there," as if my card went around town getting purposefully stuck in credit card machines. "I have one more thing I'm going to try though," he said to the maiden in distress.

And with that resilient and conquering attitude, he marched towards the machine like a brave soldier. Planting his feet firmly on the ground before aiming his pliers at the thin strip of my card, he courageously yanked the card out. He was the hero! The victor! The knight who saved the day!

Thinking we were over with this excitement with my credit card, my mouth fell open when I saw him repeat the scene over again. Aim. Charge. Yank. Jerk. Pry.

Thankfully, the card came out with very little prying this time.

The look on his face as he casually yet triumphantly handed me back my card showed a spark of heroism untainted by embarrassment.

"Wow," I thought to myself as I drove into the the misting water of the car wash.

Shaking my head subtly, I mused over the unique pattern of the male race. Even if they have to make up emergency situations just to prove their toughness and ability to conquer the world, they do it with pride.

They do it like a man.


Jasmine Swantz said...

Hi! I saw you on my xanga site and decided to check out yours.. and got redirected here. You have a lovely site, and I really loved your story. Have a great day- keep up the great writing. -Jasmine

Jean said...

Loved this story - par for the course you produced a very entertaining piece form what could have been a frustrating incident. Both my husband and I had a good laugh over this.

A. Jean