How to wash a car window

Winter is so messy. The other day Chris and I stopped for gas at Sheetz and I asked him to clean the windows of my SUV. He was glad to comply, but I noticed that he didn’t actually know how to clean car windows. Not that it’s a big deal, but is this yet another “guy thing” I neglected to teach my son during my years as a single parent?

And how do I know the “right way” to clean car windows? I realized that I just do it the way I saw gas station attendants clean car windows all the years I was growing up and sitting in the car with my folks at what used to be full serve stations. During most of my childhood, full serve stations were the only kind of gas stations that existed. I was probably a teenager and new driver around the time that gas stations began offering self serve gas as an option.

And like many people, I thought it was a terrible idea. What? Get out and learn how to pump gas myself? Hmpf. Initially, I think some men  embraced the new concept, and its associated cost savings. After all, if you were a manly man, chances are you should know not only how to pump gas, but also to check your own oil and tire pressure. However, if you were wearing a suit and tie on the way to or from work, you’d probably choose to pull up to the full serve pump closest to the station’s door.

I remember finally becoming proficient at pumping gas, but whenever I wanted to have the tires or oil checked, or if the weather was nasty – I’d opt for the full service pump, as well. I don’t think my mother learned how to pump gas until she was in her 60’s – about the time that full service stations were becoming harder and harder to find.

So, after checking under the hood, filling up any soft tires and completing the gas purchase (“fill ‘er up with high test, please!”), the station attendant would grab the squeegee and one of those blue paper towels and wash all the windows. It went like this:

Dip the squeegee in the water, give it a shake, then pull the soft, wet side of the tool horizontally, side to side, until you have washed a window from top to bottom. Then flip the squeegee over to remove the water by dragging the rubber strip firmly across the glass. Start at the top of the glass, swiping once from the far side of the window toward yourself. Wipe the rubber strip with the blue paper towel, then move down and repeat the horizontal swipe until you have cleaned the water off the entire window. Don’t forget to wipe the rubber blade with the paper towel after each section.

This should result in a clean, streak-free window. Back in the day, the Sohio or Sunoco guy could produce spotless windows in no time at all, top up your windshield wiper fluid, point out a frayed belt, ask if you wanted to add a quart of STP or Quaker State and tell you if your tires were starting to look a little bald. And gas was under a dollar a gallon, probably.

Oh, well. I’m not really into the whole “good old days” thing. I like DVRing “Top Chef” and text messages and affordable flights to Europe. It’s just interesting how we accumulate knowledge in our life times, but life experiences change from one generation to the next.  I never had to learn how to use a wringer washing machine. My son never saw anyone wash a car window. Or encountered a phone with a dial. Just makes me wonder what other archaic things I know or have experienced that I can use to amaze my grandchildren one day.

3 responses to “How to wash a car window

  1. Thought I’d pay a visit and say nice to meet you at EB 2012! P.S. I must admit I enjoy NJ law–no self-serve gas pump!

    • Thank you, Lisa! Love your blog – look forward to following you. I am so inspired by this weekend’s workshop, I will be creating a new travel/humor blog soon and – yes! – will even learn how to tweet, tag and embed a video. WooHoo! I think I’m still on an Erma high . . . .

  2. Cindy Illadvised

    Just had this experience myself.
    Watching Abbey attempt to wash the windows using some made up procedure which resulted in horizontal and verticle lines of dirt across the front, rear and side windows. Alas, we were neglectful. Thankfully, I can now refer them to your blog. Side note: I worked at a gas station where Dominos in Madison is today. I was 16 so it must have been 1978. Gas was 76 cents per gallon. I pumped the gas, checked the oil, and washed the windows. Occasionally, someone would tip me. It was my favorite job as a teen.

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