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The Fully Qualified Irritated Young Man


I normally use a hand car wash service in Llanelli on Friday afternoons just before I go and see my in-laws. You see the thing is they have a fervent belief in a shiny, clean car and I feel that if I have it cleaned within a mile of where they live I would have to be very unlucky to have had it splashed with mud in that short time.

At my age I would have to call the car washers a ‘young couple’ and they are Hungarian. They keep up a Hungarian chatter the whole time they are washing the car and I sometimes wonder when they will run out of things to say. Don’t get me wrong, they are charming and they do an excellent job.

But I can’t go there this week and my car needs to be clean for Friday, it is now Wednesday afternoon. I was just returning home from some shopping when I realised this and was almost resigned to washing it myself when I remembered the one just up the road. I used to go there a few years ago but it was always busy, abrupt and hurried. So I had changed my allegiance to one on the other side of town, bit out of the way but they were friendly and I went there for a couple of years. Then it was sold to someone else and from that time you could not sit in the car, you had to wait in the office/café. The new owner was a bit flash and spoke loudly into his mobile phone generously informing the world what a big businessman he was. I don’t mind anyone thinking that but I’m not keen to hear it shouted about. He started a loyalty scheme which involved having a membership card and of course they made a record of my mobile phone number. The next thing I was getting text messages each time he thought of his next good idea and he got me just a little bit irritated.

Which is why I transferred my most valuable custom over to the Hungarian quarter of Llanelli.

Anyway, having taken you on an excursion of my car wash haunts of the past few years I shall now return you to today and my visit to the car wash up the road.

I drive onto the forecourt and an irritated young man furiously guides me into almost the spot that he wanted me in. He was not a happy man. He was in charge of the jet wash whilst an apprentice was being trained to squirt whatever liquid they squirt onto your car. I think it is possible that he was also secretly under training to be an irritated young man.

Through the wet windscreen I can see the board that tells us what the prices are for various services and I decided to read it whilst I was waiting, I thought it might introduce him to the concept of nonchalance. When you read a price list you have to accept that it is not exactly constructed as a novel, there is no introduction of characters then plot followed by a satisfactory conclusion. It does take your mind off other things going on around you though.

I peer at the blurred letters and can make out the word ‘shampoo’ but the word underneath is a bit of a mystery, further down there is another word that I can’t make out and also on the top of the next column. I decide to give myself a challenge – can I work it all out before they leather the windscreen?

The fully qualified irritated young man sets about my car with the jet wash and it struck me that a jet wash is ideal for getting rid of your aggression, it just might take some time with him though.

Suddenly his jetting is finished, my door opens and his face is demanding “Yes?” I am a bit stunned, my mind is still on the mystery words and he has burst unexpectedly into my thoughts. “Yes,” he says again “what do you want?”

I am thinking that as he has already set about washing my car then the question seems superfluous and he sees my hesitation as an indication that I am either an imbecile or simply that I cannot speak English.

He raises his hand and spreads his fingers and says loudly “Five?” Foreigners think that by shouting loudly anyone can understand what they are saying. I say nothing but I nod my head in agreement just so that he thinks I can’t understand English. I wouldn’t want him to think I’m an imbecile!

‘Five’ means just a wash and dry so I am pointed to the tent where they dry the car. Luckily it is right in front of the price board. The windscreen is leathered dry and I can see the board clearly now and one mystery is solved. The word after ‘shampoo’ is ‘conditioning’ and I try to supress a giggle, it wasn’t easy. The next mystery bit was ‘Leter dry’ and it had an asterisk next to it. I look to the bottom of the board where another asterisk explains ‘Leter dry - method of drying car’. I’d never heard of it but there you are, I don’t know everything. There was just one mystery left – the words ‘Dash and Glar’ and as cleaning the interior glass was already on the list in perfect English I was mystified as to what Glar meant.

My car now dried I head off for home with my brain still trying to sort out these mysteries. It is dangerous to laugh at the wheel so I had to strictly control myself when I realised the answer. I still have no idea what Glar means but I can explain ‘Leter dry’.

This is what I think happened.

They got a quote for a price board from a signwriter and, the quote being accepted they then write down the prices they want put on the board. The signwriter doesn’t turn a hair (ha ha) when he comes across the words ‘Shampoo' and 'Conditioner’ but queries the words ‘Leter dry’.

“As a matter of interest,” the signwriter asks “what is Leter dry?”

This would have annoyed the fully qualified irritated young man who then snaps “It’s a method of drying your car!”

“I’ve never heard of that’” says the signwriter and confers with his staff. “They haven’t either.”

The fully qualified irritated young man then shouts “Don’t you British understand your own language?”

The signwriter suggests the inclusion of an asterisk and an explanation on the bottom of the board and the fully qualified irritated young man thinks it is a good idea, after all these Britishers don’t seem to be very familiar with their own language.

Have you worked it out yet?

‘Leter dry’ is the fashionable way to say ‘Leather dry’

‘Glar’ will remain a mystery, I’m not going to ask him but if you’re brave enough do let me know!



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