I was reading Muscat Daily yesterday and noticed Misha Daud's latest piece on the back page about unwanted cleaners. They are most often found in parking lots around Al Fair in MQ or the Turkish House in Khuwair, but they're all over the place. They've even at the MCC/QCC/MGM malls now, albeit in a legal capacity with those waterless cleaning services.
Misha described it as an epidemic, and questioned the legal status of these ever helpful parking attendants cum car washers (not the Green clean ones in the mall though). I'll agree that its bloody irritating and that they're on the rise, but they've been around for years and years.
Here's a true story that happened to me almost 6 years ago:
I had arrived here in Oman in August 2007, and needed to get a car. Not having very much money at all, my options were limited - I ended up buying a 1991 landrover discovery V8 for just under 1000 rials. I still have it today - but it's definitely on the list for getting rid of, a tree is currently attempting to merge with it.
So, I'm driving my crappy old new landrover and pretty pleased with it, it was my very first ever SUV. The first weekend I took it out wadi bashing (we went to Wadi Shatan on the knife-edge road and I nearly shatan my pants) I managed to crack my windscreen. I got a new windscreen fitted on the Saturday afternoon after work and then went to Al Fair in MQ to get some groceries. Daisy (the disco) was very dirty and so I thought I better get the car washed in case I got a fine from the ROP for having a dirty car.
Let's call him Dave, the ever helpful parking attendant and car wash guy. Dave clocked me right as I pulled into the parking lot and helped me park in the not very full parking lot. I didn't mind, I wanted him to clean my car anyway - and asked him to "do the wiping" for me.
In to UnFair I went, and some time later out I came, to a shiny green beast that was Daisy. She was gleaming in the sun and I was so impressed with the job Dave had done, I gave him an extra rial and thanked him for his hard work. I got into the drivers seat and then thats when I saw it - my brand new windscreen was shattered. Again.
I got back out and shouted to Dave who was already moving away and got him back, causing a bit of a commotion in the process. I asked him why my screen was smashed and he said it was like that before - I knew differently because the receipt for the brand new screen was still in my pocket. At this point some lady started shouting at me that I should leave this guy alone and her husband came over to sort of press her stance - at which point I offered him to look closely at the damage and he immediately agreed it was a fresh shattering - there was still all the little tiny bits of glass everywhere. I got my money back from Dave and rang the ROP - Dave legged it, like I knew he would, and I was left carrying the can for another RO 90 windscreen and trip to Wadi Kabir. I guess at least in those days, a trip to Wadi Kabir was a 15 minute drive and not the 3 hour pilgrimage it now is. As it turned out, someone else came up to me and said they'd seen Dave standing on the windscreen so he could get to the roof and wipe that down too. I guess that's how it happened.
I also noticed that lots of cars have swirled scratch marks on their panels - the product of merrily wiping dust away with dust-ridden cloths which then trashes the paint job on the car. So, armed with my personal experience, and the desire not to have my paint wrecked, I've long avoided the Dave's of this town and I urge you all to do the same. A touchless car wash is RO 1.00 or 1.5 for the basic wash - or you could wash it yourself too.