Saturday, June 04, 2016

Working At The Car Wash

Reason magazine has an interesting story on the history and development of car washes. While the story is more oriented towards the effects of minimum wage increases on car washes, I still found it of interest having worked in a car wash earlier in life. In fact, I was working at the Costa Mesa Car Wash up until I moved to Eureka.

Not sure if that place is still there, but googling Costa Mesa Car Wash, Harbor Blvd. was auto filled in for me and that's where the Costa Mesa Car Wash was. Still, lots of other car washes down there according to search results, even one on Harbor Blvd.

We started at Costa Mesa Car Wash when a friend, Doug Hutchinson, worked there and asked if we wanted a job. Another friend and I jumped at it. It paid minimum wage but wasn't too bad. You'd be spent at he end of the day. We started off vacuming the interiors of cars and did that for the entire time we worked there. Always slaving away under the hot southern California sun. 

We were the only two or three white guys that worked there as I recall. The end of the wash line where the cars were dried off was pretty much all mexicans- illegals. I feel safe in using illegals as they all ran off when a border patrol bus pulled into the lot one day. I wasn't there but my roommate told me about it. 

The back of the lot was the detail lot where cars were cleaned inside and out with a lot of time put into it. It was all black guys that worked back there and they weren't friendly towards us whites. Never understood that as their jobs seemed better than ours. At least they worked in the shade and weren't pushed to get things done quickly as we were on the vacum stations.

All in all, ours wasn't too bad a job at the time. Maybe because we didn't know of anything better. I wonder how many people do that anymore now that most car washes are automated, and that trend will likely continue?


At 5:38 PM, Blogger Sally Sheffield said...

Yes, automation taking jobs again. Those stories from the past are great though, It reminded me of the hilarious Car Wash movie. George Carlin drove a taxi, Richard Pryor was"Daddy Rich"and also starred the Pointer Sisters. Now I can't get that"Car Wash"song off my mind, ha,ha.

At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can think of two car washes on Harbor between the 405 and Newport. What was the cross street of the one you worked at?

Most of the Costa Mesa washes still employ predominately Latinos, though I've seen car washes in surrounding cities employing Asians and in wealthy cities, whites. Haven't ever seen a black person working at a car wash in Orange County. Admittedly, my observations only go back to 1985.

I suppose it would be bad if raising the minimum wage made it difficult for the car wash industry to survive. Never paid someone to clean my car in Eureka, what's it like up here?

At 5:44 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I don't remember the cross street.

I don't believe we have anyone working the car washes up here. They're all automated.


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