The day is muggy and humid. Sweat rolls down your brow, sticky and you feel gross. The time for a shower after a long day can’t come soon enough. You lick your lips, salty sweat and all, in anticipation at the mere thought of the cold rain in your dingy bathtub.
You check your Apple Watch. It’s 94 degrees Fahrenheit out, goddammit.
The bucket full of dirty water next to you looks absolutely divine right about now. Too bad it’s filled with soapy bubbles and probably bird poop from the scrubbing you’ve done on customers’ cars. It’s probably also warm after sitting in the sun for so long, but you’d die to turn on the hose and give yourself some cool relief.
Boss man won’t like that though. Something about wasting water and being a precious resource in a drought. You’ve heard it over and over again, yet you still want to turn it on just a little and splash yourself in a little puddle. Who could that possibly hurt?
You look around, checking to see if there’s any approaching cars or any co-workers to tattle on you. Thankfully, it’s just you since Jack just went on break (lucky bastard) and since it’s so friggin’ hot, there’s a lot fewer potential customers too.
With quiet determination, you tip toe over to the faucet and turn it, just a teensy, tiny bit. The sweet nectar of Mother Earth comes dripping out of the green hose you’ve been dutifully manning, and you hold your glistening hand out to feel its dewy goodness.
“What was that?” barks out the unmistakable voice of your boss, Derek, who also happens to be the owner of the car wash. Much to your regret, he’s poking his head out of the window above the faucet. You sigh, defeated.
“Nothing. Just wanted to make sure the hose wasn’t leaking,” you lie.
“Is that so? Make sure it’s not!” He closes the window, and you know very well he’s returned to his air-conditioned sanctuary.
Maybe Jack will return with some water for you, being the lucky bastard he is to have gone on break before you – he should be returning the favor. As much as you’d love to chug a bottle, the external side of your body is craving a splash of cool. You’d think that with a car wash, you’d be getting your hands wet more often than this. That’d be true if you actually had a customer with a vehicle to dutifully scrub and rinse and dry. Yet, it seems the universe had other plans for you.
A quiet voice rings out through the heat. You snap back to attention, shooing away the hazy daydream from your melting brain. An unpleasant looking woman is looking expectantly at you with the window of her red Toyota Prius rolled down.
“Hello, how can I help you?” You politely ask.
“I’d like a basic car wash, please,” she says, and fans herself. It’s as if the mere fact that her window is down means she has no AC. You want to yell at her and demand that she sees what it’s like baking directly in the sun in 94-degree weather, but you bite your tongue.
“Sure thing,” you say instead, and you get to work as she rolls her window back up. You finally get to feel the refreshing mist of water as you turn on the hose to spray her Prius down. It feels so goddamn good, you find yourself taking a little bit longer than necessary to clean it before moving onto the soap.
In fact, it takes so long, that Jack returns from his break (no water in hand) and grabs his own bucket to help. It goes by twice as fast now and although it means less time with your precious water, you do it anyways.
Once you’re finished and her red Toyota Prius looks like it’s brand new and is coming off the lot, the woman rolls her window down again. There’s a frown on her face and her nose is upturned as she hands you a twenty-dollar bill. “Keep the change.”
As she speeds away in an unnecessary boast of being in an air-conditioned car right now, you put the money away in the cash box. Jack squeezes his sponge to get the water out and whistles a song you can’t quite remember the name of. “Well, she was nice!”
“Are you kidding me? Didn’t you hear how bitchy she was being? ‘Keep the change.’” You scoff in a mockery of her voice, rolling your eyes. “You weren’t here when she first rolled up, but she was acting all high and mighty. Ugh, I can’t stand people like that.”
Jack looks perplexed. “I don’t think she meant it like that, she was smiling kindly the whole time and said thank you on top of giving us a tip. You know how rare it is to get a thank you, let alone a tip. You doing okay, dude?”
You have no idea what Jack ate for lunch, but whatever it was, it’s seemingly making him hallucinate. There’s no way that woman was nice. Sure, she gave you a tip, but the way she said it was screaming “look how much money I have” and reeked of being absolutely stuck up. “I’m fine. Next you’ll say Derek cares about our health and well-being.”
“Um,” Jack stops what he’s doing and inspects you closely. “He does? Derek is, like, the nicest guy I’ve ever met. I thought you knew that too. Are you sure you’re okay?”
You can’t believe what you’re hearing. Derek nice? There must be some brainwashing stuff in whatever Jack ate. Derek was a self-centered, manipulative control freak. He only cared about himself and the money he made from the car wash. His employees are as disposable as his income. What the hell was hap--
The next thing you know, you’re on the ground and the world is rapidly spinning to black. You vaguely hear the words “heat stroke” yelled in the distance, far, far above you and your consciousness fades away to nothing.