The $40 Car Wash

The $40 Car Wash

Last week I was out on my daily walk and came across this ad taped  on a telephone pole. It was a for car washing by two neighborhood boys.

Charlie Tyndall (11) and August Levinson (9) live up the street. I had hired them for a weeding project about a month ago and they did a terrific job, though Charlie, who tends toward the dramatic,  said he felt completely wasted afterwards.

We have a car that needed washing. I knew the quality of their work, so I emailed Charlie’s mother to set up a time.

Well, again, they did a fabulous job, including vacuuming the inside of the car. Per the ad, a mid-size car, which ours is, would be $20. When I went to pick up the car, though, the bill was $30. The extra ten dollars was to cover the vacuuming. Fair enough, but they should’ve mentioned that initially. I told them that, and explained the profit to be made with “up selling.” While my actual bill was $30, I gave them each $20 to include a hefty tip.

I asked what they planned to do with the money. Both went on and on about some toy or other. I suggested that they might re-invest in the business with their profits – perhaps getting more professional fliers for the neighborhood telephone poles. They stared back at me blankly.

Of course none of this is about a car wash. It is about first, supporting these two kids with their business adventure. It is also about good connections with the two families and their parents. We have developed quite a friendly community here on Harrison Ave., mostly through our yearly block parties. Via our shared email addresses, when a new family moved in recently, they received half a dozen welcome notes from the neighbors. I thought, “How often does that happen?”

I asked Charlie if he wanted to do more weeding, “No,” came a fast answer. “Too hard. I’d rather wash cars.” I have started telling neighbors about all this saying, “Why go down town and have some automated car wash do the job?” Also, let’s keep the money in the neighborhood. Maybe the water fight that went along with the car wash made the job more pleasant. It was a very hot day. 

I ended the event by giving the boys a brief lecture on the power of compound interest. (Just kidding. I didn’t really do that.)

6 thoughts on “The $40 Car Wash

  1. jim hunolt says:

    great story, rick! yes, learning early in life the rewards of being able to earn resources by self employment and committed energy is indeed priceless…..I had two paper routes, one in the morning, the other after school for years, and also worked at my family’s textbook store… .my dad offered me the deal that for every dollar I SAVED he would match it will a dollar. at 16 I purchased my first car with cash…..

    • Shar says:

      What a terrific story! Love the neighborhood interaction! The boys will always remember you and their car wash venture!

  2. Mary Warren says:

    Charlie reminds me of someone as I remember your stories of your elementary school escapades. Seriously though, I like supporting local businesses and building bonds with neighbors. We’ve been doing that here in FL to build the kind of community we want to live in.

  3. Pat says:

    This is what I meant by “preparing for the next phase of our lives “at this morning’s BHS Group. Why couldn’t the kids be taught how to put part of their money away for the future and have some fun with the other part.? That would make a good budgeting principle. Looks like everyone had fun,especially the car’s owner. .

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