I Learn the Damnedest Lessons…

From the most bizarre or seemingly normal situations. Maybe I have an overactive imagination. Or perhaps try to find cause/effect and meaning in things for which maybe not so much meaning exists. Like here. Here. Here. Or even here. See the pattern? I could list ten more…

But today I got the greatest little life lesson from a guy who cleaned my car. Yeah, I already get that this doesn’t sound like it’s going to be interesting, but it’s rare that I have an experience and write about it on the same day, which I’ve done. So just hang tight. Or read fast.

This morning I set up for my car to be detailed by Antonio with Home Detailing Auto Service while I worked from home. Found him online, read a ton of reviews. Everybody raved about him. Everybody. I. Mean. Everybody. 

So he shows up, and I was going to be on a business call at the and just hand him the keys but I decided that’d be a) slightly rude, b) I’m a bit intrigued that everybody raves about this guy and want to meet him, and finally c) that I’m still too obsessive compulsive particular about giving instructions on what needs to be done with the car–yeah even though it’s a Prius. Yes, he’s an expert auto detailer. But so am I. I have Googled it.

Really, I am quite particular–ask anyone who has ever eaten at a restaurant with me, I am convinced I can take whatever is on the menu and make it better with about five adjustments. So I go outside, and he’s smiling and within 30 seconds he’s waving his hands around, and speaking with the most adorable accent, and Latin passion, explaining to me that my paint is starving…

“My friend, my friend” he says to me, with his hands waving wildly (as one, I love “moderately expressive” people), “look at the tree over there. You see that tree? You think it just comes up and blossoms? No. You must water it, my friend. Your car is suffocating. You must wash it monthly after I detail it. Promise me, my friend, you will wash it and your paint, we can bring it back.”

I’m nodding, in love with his enthusiasm (and he’s also very knowledgeable–clearly I’m not doing his depth of knowledge justice just trust me–this guy knows his stuff), and my non verbal response I can see encourages Antonio to share another analogy.

“Do you work out, my friend? You work out, Si? You body, you need the nutrients. You need the nutrients and the water. Otherwise you will be drinking coffee in the morning and not working so well. You need the vitamins to do the working in your body. You need the aqua. Your paint, your paint is the same way. We can fix the paint on your car my friend, we can breathe new life into it, but you need to promise me you will wash it.” Then he goes on to diagram on my dusty window what’s happening with my paint and why it’s being fatigued by the elements. (seriously).

Now I’m smiling, hugely, and still nodding. I love this guy. Which I’m sure he can tell, and my facial expressions are likely begging for more stories. And the ultimate irony to all of this is that all I really want is my interior to smell good. If I found a homeless man peeing on the paint of my car one morning, I think the most excitement it would elicit out of me is a “c’mon dude, is that really necessary?” I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. But the more Antonio talks, the more I’m starting to care about my paint.

Three more analogies later (true) he’s ready to go to work. But now I’m not.

Intrigued, I ask him about his philosophy on business. And he looks at me, smiling, arms waving wildly, saying, “My friend, let me tell you something. I have been doing this for over 20-years. I look at you, and I don’t see money. I see a customer, someone that I need to serve. And who wants to have a great experience. I want to make you happy. That is all. I want to make your car look beautiful. You and your beautiful car. If you have beautiful looking car, then anything is possible for you, no? And I want to make you happy for a long time. Other detailers, they like this cheap wax. Why? Because you come back every three months. Not me. If I use cheap wax, I think in three months you not happy. I want you happy, very happy, for a long time. My friend, just wash your car for me every month. It will look good for one year. You will be happy. You will Yelp me. You will tell friends how happy you are with Antonio. And, that, my friend, is why I am so busy and have been in business so long. If I make you happy, that is all I need to do.”

Sometimes you have these experiences, simple experiences, that are so full of insights, simple learnings, and beautiful people. Today was one of them. And, as he was finishing up, I told him I wanted to take a picture of him and my car.

He said “Yes, yes, that’s fine my friend. But please, please my friend, make sure you park your car one week facing the garage and one week facing away from the garage. It is better for your paint, and the suns rays will be scattered across it more evenly.”


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6 Replies to “I Learn the Damnedest Lessons…”

  1. Awesome post. Inspirational and very practical advice–applicable to all forms of business and life as well

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