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Post Column: Conquering a fear of strangers at the carwash

All right, Ryan, enough is enough. Let’s face facts here: your car is filthy. There’s a family of raccoons living in the backseat, and someone wrote “WASH ME” on your back window. Then their finger apparently got stuck in the accumulated muck and it looks like they had to chew it off to escape, so now you’ve got a severed human finger sticking out of the back window.

I think it’s time for a wash.

Yes, I know you’ve never been to a carwash by yourself before, and I know that you’re mortally terrified of doing new things and looking dumb in front of strangers. But come on, self, you’re 21 years old now! You are, to all external appearances, a grown man capable of caring for himself and performing basic social tasks!

Obviously I think we both know that that is in no way true, but maybe if you fake it long enough people will start to believe you. Heck, maybe that Walmart greeter will stop asking you if you lost your mommy every time you go to buy Legos for “your cousin!” A man can dream, right?

So: time to man up. Time to overcome your anxiety and get this disgusting crap pile of a car washed. Look, there’s a whole line of cars here getting the full treatment. These people aren’t freaking out and having day-nightmares about the machine malfunctioning and spraying your car with hydrochloric acid instead of soap.

Why can’t you have a normal human brain like the rest of these people? No, the one you keep in the jar in the closet doesn’t count!

Look at them. Look how normal and relaxed they seem, as if getting your car washed in public wasn’t some kind of terrifying, labyrinthine trial from the gods. That guy’s literally smoking a blunt and watching Toy Story 2 on DVD while his car is being washed! Be like that guy, Ryan.

All right, the line is moving; it’s almost your turn. Don’t panic - you did your research, so just consult your notes. Step one: deposit money. Step two: select wash treatment. Step three: drive forward. Step four ... step four just says “get laid erry day.” That’s not even how you spell “every!” Were you drunk when you wrote this? Step five just says “banana dance!” Oh, God, you’re doomed!

Okay. Okay. Just stay cool. There’s still one more person in line, so you’ve got time to think. What would a cool guy like Don Draper do right now? ... Okay, first off, you don’t even have a wife to cheat on, and second off, that doesn’t seem helpful at all in this situation. Think! Think! Why isn’t chanting “think, think” over and over again giving you any ideas!?

Oh no. The person ahead of you moved up. It’s your turn to pay! Okay, remember the steps and just pray you don’t screw up and look like an idiot in front of the other drivers. Step one: money in. Done. That ... that was easy! Step two: select treatment. Done! Hey, this isn’t so hard! Step three: drive forward ...

Hey, I’m doing it! I’m really doing it!

Man. All that freaking out over a simple task that takes like five minutes to complete. I guess it’s funny how social anxiety works, huh? Even the most mundane public chores can seem like awful, embarrassing nightmares. It’s a wonder you can even step out the door without collapsing into a pile of your own bodily fluids.

But I’m proud of you, self. You faced your fear and took one step closer to becoming an actual, honest-to-God adult m- wait. Why is the light marked “Hydrochloric Acid” flashing? Oh God, don’t tell me you pressed the acid button by mistake! It’s eating through the car! My skin! MY SKIIIIIIIN!

Ryan McAndrews is recovering from acid burns while studying journalism at Ohio University and writing columns for The Post. Send him your carwash tips at


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