Living in Paradise

The Clean Freaks

The Clean Freaks

My condo neighbor, the clean car freak, is at it again. While I’m spreading mayonnaise on my chicken sandwich, I can see him slathering soap on the hood of his late model Audi from my kitchen window.

I swear it’s a once-a-week ritual for him to clean his own car. But he also offers his detailing services to other neighbors. It’s not unusual for me to come home and find him and a fellow washer wielding polish and rags with military precision.

I always take the opportunity to comment when I see them in action, leaving big puddles of water in our driveway.

“At it again, eh, men? When are you opening your car wash business?”

They give me a tolerable smile as they continue their male bonding ritual. I go on my way mentally shaking my head. There are no offers to run a cloth over my hood.

The truth is that my neighbor’s compulsive behavior wouldn’t bother me all that much if I wasn’t so obsessed with keeping the garage floor clean.

When we moved in last summer the floor was newly painted – thanks to my neighbor, who is only here during the winter months. And it stayed pristine until Hurricane Ian struck and deposited large amounts of mulch and other debris in the garage. It took my man and I five days and plenty of sweat equity to clean the floor and get rid of the smell.

While we were scrubbing the floor, someone arrived and took my neighbor’s car, which he leaves behind for the summer. When the car was returned hours later, it was sparkling clean. That was an eye-rolling moment.

For about four weeks, the garage remained spotless primarily because we were the only residents of the building that houses three other seasonal families. I was still wondering why no one cared enough to check on their condos after the hurricane when my neighbor, the car guy, returned.

He remarked to his wife that the “garage floor doesn’t look all that bad.” She told me about his comment to which I replied: “It’s because we spent a week cleaning it … by ourselves.”

“Oh,” was her response.

The garage remained amazing until my neighbor began his clean car ritual again and the home watch person for another residence in our building showed up and drove through the leftover puddles. When she departed, she left behind dirty tire tracks and debris. A short while later, my man returned from the grocery store and made a similar deposit on our part of the garage floor. The clean car freak also brought in more dirt when he moved his clean vehicle into the garage.

Unable to face the debacle, I ate ice cream.

When I think about the state of the world and the daily tragedies of life … as I ponder when the county will remove the mountains of hurricane trash from our streets … when I realize that so many people have lost so much in the recent storms that hit Florida, and we  had no issues except for the plague of red tide that has descended on our area … I am riddled with guilt at my pettiness.

But that’s how it goes. It’s not the big things, but the little ones that often bring you down.

A bright spot is that my neighbors will be going home for the holidays. For at least a month or so I will be able to enjoy clean garage floors again. Or learn during that period to stop caring.