We live on a county road that’s mostly white rock gravel, so our vehicles are never clean. When it’s dry, the dust layers on like icing on a cake, and sifts in all the cracks so the dash is dusty and dim. When it’s wet, we can’t see out any of the side windows because there’s a film of mud on them, and people write, “Wash me,” on the tailgates. A couple of times a year we give everything a bath, but on our next trip to town we decorate with dust, bugs on the bumper, or a bird in the grill.

Our two dogs often ride along so the inside of each rig isn’t exactly pristine either. I’ve learned not to wear black unless it’s right after cleanup day. Dog hair is one thing, but nose prints on the inside of windows are a real issue. You don’t usually wash the inside ones when filling up with gas.

Last week, we got a rig serviced in Rapid City and they gave us a token for a free car wash. On the final leg of the home trip we met two beet trucks on the rock road, so the car wash deal was all over and done. At least half of the vehicles in line at the car wash were already bright and shiny. And my husband thinks I’m a neat freak.

My folks didn’t own a car for the first ten years of my life, and when we finally got one keeping it clean was the least of our worries. We were just tickled not to get stuck in sand, snow, or mud on our two track trail roads.

I spent most of my adult life in old beater ranch pickups, clearing a space among the tools, left handed gloves, rifles, calf tags, and vet medicines in order to find the driver’s seat. The town car, when we had one, was full of extra jackets, kid’s mittens, half done homework, and the remains of someone’s lunch box.

Washing a vehicle is one of my least favorite jobs, and cleaning the inside is even more distasteful. Driving a car that’s clean, outside and in, makes me feel great, so you’d think that making it happen would be a priority. Maybe the reluctance is a result of how much stuff we carry in the ones we drive now. It’s all our own stuff too, winter gear, tools, a shovel, reusable grocery bags, CD’s, and whatever needs to go to the house where we are presently not staying. Removing dog hair when we plan to carry a passenger is chore enough without finding a place to stash all the other stuff, and as far as the outside goes, the dogs like to help, so we get a bath along with the pickup.

It is what it is, and I agree with my daughter in law, who says she’d rather live in the country and drive a dirty car, than live in town and have a clean one.

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