It was time again for one of the most dreaded tasks: taking my car to the mechanic for maintenance. Not only is sanitizing my car afterwards one of the most daunting cleaning jobs that I have to do, I risk getting dirty myself when I drive the car home in that ultra-contaminated state. The last thing I need is added stress at that time, but that’s what I got this time around.
I was in a hurry to get out of the house so that I wouldn’t be late getting the car to the shop. I should know not to rush, as that is when something is sure to go wrong. But I did. And, as is often the case, something happened that had never taken place before. I was changing clothes, and as I shook my foot to remove the slipper from it, the slipper flew upwards and hit my forearm! It was so unexpected that I gasped from the shock of it. Of all the times for something that horrific to go wrong. There was no way that I could leave the house in that condition. But I didn’t have time to go to the sink and wash up. I used alcohol and paper towels to wipe my arm several times. That wasn’t enough cleaning for that level of contamination, but it was enough to get me out of the house.
I got into my clean car, and felt like a mean parent or a mean dog owner. I wasn’t taking my car to the veterinarian for a painful shot, but I felt guilty. Leaving it with the grimy mechanic was like leaving a child with a bad babysitter. And, although I knew the car was about to become utterly filthy, I didn’t want my contaminated arm to touch the seat belt as I pulled the belt over it. I didn’t want the car to meet its fate before it’s time. But I arrived at the shop and turned it over. I left it there and walked the short distance to work. There I started the task of cleaning the hand that I had used to sign the estimate. After I had wiped it off a sufficient number of times, I took my soap to the sink in the break room and washed both my hands AND my arms.
The rest of the story follows the usual pattern of endless disinfecting. One thing that makes it slightly easier is covering the seat with a towel after picking up the car. It helps keep my person cleaner. What was discouraging was when I thought I was nearly done cleaning and discovered another significant area that needed attention. I keep three large plastic boxes in the car trunk to hold groceries and any other objects or items that might need to be kept clean. When I first bought them, I tossed the lids behind them in the belief that I would never need the lids. Only later did I realize that I had to close the boxes before taking the car to the mechanic, in the off-chance that he would need to access the trunk. The boxes hold items that I have no other place for. The evening prior to going to the mechanic, I spent a half-hour removing groceries and any other object that I could find a temporary home for in the house. The goal was to get the level in the boxes below the lids. When I put the lids on top, I couldn’t have anything touching the undersides. I took out quite a bit, but I was still concerned that there would be contact with the lids because they extend inward. I bent down and checked at eye level and wasn’t satisfied with two of them. Therefore, I spread a plastic bag over the highest area in one box, and I used napkins in the other one. Fairly confident that the contents were safe, I secured the lids.
That was Wednesday evening. It wasn’t until Saturday evening that I realized that I still hadn’t removed the lids. To remove the large lids in that tight space, I had to wrap my arms in cellophane and put on gloves. As I lifted off the first lid, I thought of the proximity of the inner surface to the contents below and became nervous. Three days had elapsed, and I had forgotten about the precautionary measures that I had taken. Once again I felt the need to do a check at eye level. I slowly lifted the lid to see if there was any visible contact between the lid and the contents of the box. I couldn’t tell. I tried it again, but I couldn’t see inside once the lid was close to the box. But, like the person attempting to peep at the refrigerator light (did it really go out?), I repeated the action several times hoping for different results. Different results I did not get. So I moved to the other box. As insane as that sounds, the second box was a different model. But I suppose it was illogical, because a box is a box, and I still didn’t see what I was hoping for. Consequently, I had no choice but to be satisfied with what I could see with the lids off. And I felt uncomfortable. Two of the boxes appeared to be too full, but then I noticed the plastic bag and the napkins that I had spread out. I was so happy! I had saved the contents.
But my work was far from over. The lids had contaminated the edges of the boxes, up to two inches inside. The edges of all three containers had to be sprayed; otherwise, groceries and the like could be contaminated. And they had to be sprayed the typical eight times, with enough time in between to dry. Thus, it was not completed in one day.
For a total of five days, my life was disrupted by this most unpleasant of tasks. Here’s hoping the car holds out for another year without breaking down!