Phil Jackson coached a number of championship teams for the Chicago Bulls, as he taught spirituality. Johnny Cash spent years of his life hopped up on pills doing crazy things, he also sang some great gospel songs. Some of the best teachers find themselves with two, three, or even more purposes. My day job is car washing. During my “off times”, I do so much more than remove dirt from dirty cars.
If I were honest, cars never interested me. While I have performed a variety of jobs for bread, what intrigues me, is people. While I would like everyone I work with, to do well, there has to be more to “doing well”, than financial success. Nothing about what I do for a living conflicts with what I do for a purpose, and vice versa.
Now that those thoughts are out of the way, here is a tale of washing Bugattis.
Bugattis are assembled by hand. Bugattis are expensive. When I say expensive, I mean that used Bugattis are valued at well over one million American dollars. In my nine year career as an express tunnel car washer, I have washed nothing but Bugattis. Every day, every wash, Bugatti.
When I work with vendors, we work to clean Bugattis. As I speak to customers, either upset or complimentary, it is always about one model or another… of a Bugatti. When we make decisions as a company, as a market, or as individuals, the considerations are about how to make Bugattis clean.
Obviously, every car sent through our tunnels are not Bugattis. There are a variety of makes and models. From a 1990 Toyota Camry to a 2020 Lamborghini. We clean a lot of different cars.
But, here is the thing about cars. People usually drive a car they picked out. That decision was often made with the desire to get the best vehicle that could be afforded at the time. For me, cars are not good or bad, impressive or not, but they are symbols of a decision that mattered to those who drive them.
And here, a side note.
My first car was a 1968 Volvo that my father and I rebuilt before it became roadworthy. While the car was older than me, it remains the best car I have ever driven. Not for the air condition (it had none), not for the way it looked (it was more like a box), certainly not for the audio system (before remodel, it had one speaker). Nothing about that car would be anything to advertise these days, but it made me feel free, important, able to fix anything, and it meant more than whatever bell or whistle now available.
Cars mean something to people, and people mean something to me. I love to hear the stories, the troubles, the hopes, the failures that always turn out to be a success in some way.
When I hear we washed 500 cars, I think to myself, “500 Bugattis”. Not so much because of the car, but because of what it might mean for the owner of a Bugatti. Million dollar cars mean owners that are worth millions of dollars. Whether that 1990 Toyota Camry is being used to deliver pizzas, or that 2020 Lamborghini is taking some lawyer to a court hearing, the people are all worth millions of dollars.
Not just to me, but to whatever took the time to create them.
Washing Bugattis is more of an approach to living. Most of what I read, share, and do (even for bread), is more of an approach to living. If a Bugatti came into one of the car washes I help with, the team members would gawk and want a picture. I want our team to realize that any car, driven by any person, is worth the gawking and the picture taking.
The world needs a little more of the gawking and the picture taking. Perhaps the recording of smiles as much as the recording of atrocities. Sharing good stories. Believing in the goodness of life rather than the suspicion of those living lives. These are my struggles as well. Our thoughts are, and become, things. Simple enough. Easy peasy.
If we take the time to listen to those that offer criticism, we will hear stories of what else is going on that causes pain. Is it the bug left on your car, or the surgery you had to postpone due to a global pandemic? Is the price increase, or is that you cannot visit your mother in a nursing home right now? Yes, we failed to execute well, but tell me more about how you lost your best friend recently.
We should not easily dismiss real concerns, but we should allow the telling of stories. With patience, kindness, and compassion. This is a service to others and the Universe.
We should also offer hope, a smile, and some type of follow up. Just something small, like a call, or a “come see me next time”, so that we are invested in people as much as they have become invested in us. This goes for business, as well as friendships. This goes for customers, and those we meet on the street.
If you have not guessed it yet, you are both the Bugatti and the driver of the Bugatti. Not only the driver of the the Bugatti, but also the Bugatti itself. Hand-crafted, high performance, worth more than you believe possible, and an absolute reason for others to gawk and take pictures.
You may see the bad hair days, the silly thing you said last week, or the mess you have ended up in this time, but I promise those are just events. Just like the events and miracles it took for you to be here in the first place. Just like the infinite number of events that are possible for you to thrive. Give yourself a little credit. In fact, give yourself a lot of credit. You are co-creating the very will of God.
You are a big deal. Bugatti big.
Tomorrow I will wash Bugattis. Today, I will dream of love and peace in a world that might have forgotten those were possible.
Tomorrow will bring a new set of lessons. Today, the lesson is that there is always hope, and that this hope, often starts with our acknowledgement that we cannot always trust what we see and think. Our ability to see the goodness in all things is hindered by our longing to worry for things we might figure out. Believe in the goodness of each moment.