Israel Stories

Sunday, September 18, 2005


The carwash itself was dirty, only rivaled by the unwashed Russian, sponge in hand, who seemed to prefer the company of flies to humans. How my car was to end up sparkly clean, as the advert promised, was anybodies guess. Also in the advert was the promise of a free coffee and croissant with every 40 shekel spent.

The coffee machine was even dirtier than the Russian. I watched as he rested his wet sponge on the shelf above the peculator and the dirty soapy water leaked out, dripping into the black abyss of coffee below.

Maybe Nescafe would be interested in this unique way of flavoring coffee. Who knows, if rotting meat used to be the secret ingredient to flavor beer in the old days maybe car wash sponges filled with a hundred types of oil, effluent and general grime could be the new coffee. Just think, Swiss chocolate, vanilla, walnut and carwash sponge.

Needless to say coffee was off the menu. Unfortunately so were the croissants which lay in ‘sponge gravy’ next to the coffee machine.

Amazed by my refusal of free food and drink the Russian went to work on my car.

I suppose I could have decided before it was too late to tell the guy I had changed my mind but he looked like he had just come to Israel after his 25 year forced conscription in mother Russia’s army. Tattooed from head to foot, I assume even the parts of his body not exposed were likewise decorated, reeking of Chechnya and Afghanistan and thoroughly discontent with his life, his face didn’t even crack once even after my jokes about the cleaning fluid dissolving the car door, he set to work. I was scared of him and didn’t want to upset him.

Methodically, he began to clean my car and when I say methodically I mean methodically. This guy was an expert. He started polishing the head lights worked his way around the sides then up and over the top before vacuuming and polishing every inch of the interior. The guy knew his business. This guy was an expert, probably had an degree in car washing.

When he was finished, with a look of pride on his face he offered me the car for inspection. It felt very military, him standing to attention as I inspected the car, nearly chocking from the air freshener I over zealously agreed to allow him to spray.

Then, with an article in mind, asked him about himself. For years this guy washed and polished officer’s cars in the Russian army. That was his only job. So I can safely say that my car was washed by the same hands that washed some of Russia’s most elite military officers.

He can’t really speak Ivrit, he smells like something’s died in his trousers, but boy can he clean a car.