What is more intimate than a seatbelt? Most people could come up with a whole list of answers, but think about it. It clings to your body from your shoulder down to your waist. It is quite snug, up close and personal, and it keeps you safe and secure while you are in your car. That is intimate.
Now think about a greasy mechanic getting in your car, sitting in your seat, and pulling your seatbelt across his filthy clothes. I really don’t want to be that intimate with the mechanic (no offense to the mechanic). Yet, what choice do I have when the time comes to take the car to the shop?
The dreaded day came this week. I usually take it in once a year for maintenance, but it had been two years this time. What can I say? Life got in the way, and I hoped every day that nothing would fall off or blow up before I could take it in. I knew that the car needed a lot of work and that it would be a two day affair. When I arrived at the shop, walked away from my car, and handed over the keys, I felt as if I were abandoning my old friend to a horrible fate, that I was cruel.
Whenever I pick up my car after it has been in the shop, I always dread the drive home. My comfortable seat becomes a hellish place swarming in greasy germs. I feel as though the germs are enveloping me. Everything I touch, or that touches me, is infested with germs. The steering wheel, the mirror, the dials, the gear shift, the visor, the console, the door handle, the window buttons, and, of course, the seat and seatbelt – all of them are unbelievably filthy. Each and every item must be sanitized.
The drive home is also extremely uncomfortable. I always try so hard not to lean back because I don’t want my hair to touch the seat – that means a super-shower that night. So, I end up hunching forward to keep my hair clean, and I have my left arm trying to hold the seatbelt away from my body. Not only is this painful after a few minutes, but I can only imagine what is going through the minds of the people that I pass on the road. If the car is moving, it probably doesn’t attract too much attention, but I hate pulling up to an intersection where the other drivers actually need to look my direction. They must be wondering what on earth is wrong with me. The irony is that I do it all for nothing. By the time I arrive home, I always assume that I leaned back a little too far at one time or another, and I always take a super-shower anyway.
If I have control over the day that I take my car in (if it’s not an emergency, e.g., flat tire), I arrange it for a Friday, or as in the case this week, Thursday and Friday, because it is difficult to complete my cleaning ritual in one evening. I usually split it up between Friday evening and Saturday. What takes so long? I spray down all of the above mentioned parts with rubbing alcohol – eight times. And after that, I do a wipe-down to get any dirt remaining. It takes approximately one hour to spray everything down and let it dry. My intimate friend, the seatbelt, is the most complicated part to clean. I have to pull it out with my gloved left hand and spray it with the small bottle of alcohol I am holding in my right hand. It gets tricky when I have to twist my arm around to get both sides of the belt thoroughly.
Cleanup is always a nightmare, but thanks to a reader – Eli – this time it was a little less painful and somewhat less embarrassing also. In response to another post where I mentioned anticipating taking my car to the shop, Eli suggested that I cover the seat with a sweatshirt or some such item before dropping off the car. While I didn’t do that, I decided that I would bring along a towel to throw over the seat before getting in to drive home. It worked wonderfully! I was able to make the drive in relative comfort, my hair stayed clean, and I didn’t have to take a super-shower that night. Not only that, the other drivers didn’t have a chance to point at the hunchback. Thanks a million, Eli!