matt and lisa outside car

I don’t keep my car tidy.  I don’t even keep it picked up.  Honestly, I have no idea what’s living in my vehicle, but I’m pretty sure there’s enough mold to make at least one dose of penicillin that would kill just about anything (or at least Paris Hilton’s latest bout with the clap).

I would like to have a clean car; believe me, I would.  I just honestly don’t know how to master that feat.  (I guess I should start by not throwing half-used water bottles into the back seat.)

I usually don’t have regular riders in my car.  It’s not just because I prefer to drive alone so I can roll down the window when I get too gassy.  It’s also because my car is a complete disaster.

Those people who know me well just know this about me.  We don’t discuss it, we just agree to take someone else’s vehicle.  It’s kind of like the elephant in the room…or the Hardees bag in the back seat (isn’t that a saying?)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drive one of those cars where the trash is piled up so high that there is only a small space for the driver to get in, most likely to drive himself off a cliff during a psychotic episode.  It’s not like that at all (although sometimes I want to throw myself off a cliff when listening to Diane Rhem from NPR).

I can see out my windows and all seats are available…they are just difficult to get to at times. And don’t worry, I got that smell taken care of some time ago.

stuffed carI went on a work trip recently with several of my colleagues.  We all came from different offices to meet in the ever-so-exciting town of Indianapolis.  I decided to drive since it’s easier and there’s no limit to what luggage I bring, and whether my lotion is in a 3 ounce container.

(I also am still on a “heightened alert” list since that recent incident where I may have gotten sassy with a TSA official.  Hypothetically.)

My other colleagues from other offices flew (they are obviously not considered a threat to national security), and then they got a cab from the airport to the hotel.

The night I arrived, I stayed in my room making sweet sweet love to a chocolate mousse cake I ordered from room service, and then told the delivery man I was going to split it with my husband.  I think he knew I was lying, but he played along.

We met in the lobby of the hotel the next morning after I shamelessly scarfed down an omelet and hasbrowns in the comfort of my room, which was a judgment-free zone.  (Yes, I did need to eat the entire omelet, and the hashbrowns and BOTH pieces of toast.  Don’t judge.)

As we sat around waiting for all my colleagues to arrive, one of them said something to me about driving.  Yes, I agreed.  I would be driving myself to the meeting.  I suppose I just didn’t think about how the others would get to the meeting.  Maybe I assumed they would simply arrive without reference to travel, just like Batman.

“No,” Tom Bodett replied.  (Okay, Tom Bodett isn’t his real name, but his voice sounds exactly like Tom Bodett from those Motel 6 commercials.  I like to make him say “We’ll leave the light on for ya.”  He’s never amused with this, although I find it hysterical.)  “We will all be going in your car” Bodett said.

Wait, what?  I felt like he said it in slow motion.  Every thing slowed down and it took me a minute to process what he was saying.  Some of the delay in processing could have been due to the copious amount of Benedryl and Sudafed I had just ingested to mask the misery of my sinus infection.  I was practically a walking meth lab, only without the trailer park and burning hair smell.  (Okay, maybe a little of the burning hair smell.)

“Um,” I responded quickly.  (Yes, that’s the best response I could muster.  I’m not that great under pressure when the sinus pressure in my head could fill up the tire of a small riding lawnmower.)  “You are more than welcome to ride in my car with me, but you can’t judge me for how messy my car is,” I said, silently cursing myself for not even attempting to remove the trash heap in my back seat floorboards.

“It’s no big deal,” Tom Bedett said.  “I live out of my car too.”

Yeah, right.  He obviously didn’t know what he was in for, and I was just too sick to worry about it.  The valet brought my car around and attempted to put my luggage in the trunk.

kid in carseat

He returned to me with an expression of exasperation and exhaustion and I gave him a few extra bucks for his troubles, and told him to speak of the disarray of my car to no one.

I figured a few bucks of hush money was worth it.  I considered telling him to buy himself something pretty, but thought better of it.

We all walked to my car.  I walked slightly ahead of them hoping to get there early to clean out the car.  I don’t know what I thought I would accomplish in the 10 seconds I was there before the others arrived, but I felt like I at least needed to hope for a small miracle.

Perhaps the valet had miraculously cleaned out my car.  No such luck.

I opened the door to the backseat and saw the usual…papers covered in dog hair, bottles of water in varying degrees of consumption, a wadded up comforter for the dogs to sleep on, a variety of dog toys, and random receipts, napkins and Fiber One bar wrappers.

Perhaps what was most embarrassing was the pair of wadded up Spanx that were on the floor in plain site.  They were there from almost a year ago when I spoke at a convention and took them off because I couldn’t breathe and seriously thought they broke one of my ribs.

Those torturous pieces of Spandex remained in my car on the floor, where they were supposed to be.

But at that moment, I wished I would have burned them in a cleansing ritual, just as I would have liked.

I began grabbing things from the backseat and throwing them into the trunk…or at least trying to throw them into the trunk.  My trunk was packed full with briefcases for work, dryer sheets to make the car smell nice, random dog food, dog treats and water bowls, and what was most likely pieces of a wardrobe from every season of the year.

I was able to put a few things in the trunk before announcing to the group that they were going to have to stuff into the car and then hold onto their baggage.  (Not their emotional baggage, although I’m pretty sure at least one of them was holding onto some serious stuff, but that’s another blog for another day.)

You haven’t been embarrassed until you’ve seen your coworkers scrunched in your car, wrinkling their suits with their luggage, and avoiding eye contact with you so they don’t give away their true feelings about how you treat your car like a waste basket.

I felt like I needed to at least point out that although my car was a mess, my house was clean.  Strangely enough, this is actually true.  My house is always clean, tidy and picked up, although my car always looks like a tornado went through it.  I like to think it’s the ying and the yang of my life.

They all piled in the car with their suits and luggage, and although they didn’t say anything, I could actually hear them judging me internally.  I wish I cared.  I really do.

But all I could think about was how much my head actually weighed with the extra pounds of sinus drainage and if the additional pounds were the cause of my recent weight gain.  (It had to be…it definitely couldn’t have been all that room service.)

We arrived at our location and when the doors to the car opened, my coworkers literally fell out of the car with their luggage.  I looked down and one of the empty water bottles escaped the back seat.  It was most likely jumping to freedom and I didn’t blame it.  I looked at my coworkers and reminded them not to judge me and that I was super busy and important, and didn’t have time to clean my car.

They pretended like they didn’t care, but I saw one of them check to see if there was trash clinging to the back of her dress.  (It wasn’t an unrealistic concern.)

I would like to say my coworkers didn’t tell on me and my disgusting car, but I have a feeling they did.  If I get a gift certificate for a car detailing from my employer this year for Christmas, I will know those blabber mouths ratted me out.