By contributor Sean Carey
I recently went to a car wash at a small, edge of town shopping area near where I live in an affluent commuter town around 10 miles north of London. It is located in rented space in the car park in front of Homebase and Argos, two of the U.K.’s biggest retail chains.
The car wash consists of a square metal hut resembling a small shipping container. Employees can stash their belongings in it and find shelter there during inclement weather.
Here is the routine at my local car wash: A driver parks behind other vehicles that are in the queue and then edges forward until a team of young men begin to perform their magical work. One employee uses a pressure water hose to remove most of the dirt and grime. Then two or three others use sponges and detergent to finish the job. The driver is still sitting behind the wheel.
After another move forward in the queue, a second group of men use chamois leathers to dry the car’s bodywork.
Now, for an extra fee the customer can request that the inside of the vehicle is cleaned. This choice entails getting out of the car. Which is what I did. As I stood and watched, three men began vacuuming and wiping interior surfaces.
I then went over to pay the owner, who I had briefly met on previous visits. It turns out that he is a Kosovar Albanian. “I have been living in the U.K. for 15 years,” he told me in response to my query about his background. “I go back Kosovo twice a year – it’s safe now – but this is now my home. My family is here.”
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