“I believe that’s everything, Dad. Every penny.”
“Yes, it is. I gotta tell you, I always believed you could do it, but I’m still very impressed.”
“Are you still mad at me for not going to college?”
“I was never mad, Chandler. I just honestly believed it was the best thing for you at the time. I mean, when you’ve got a 3.87GPA in high school it only seems natural to go on to college. I’ll admit I was disappointed for a few months, but your mom and I raised you to follow your dreams and you did that. How could we be upset with you for doing what we asked you to do and doing it so well at that?”
“I still remember the way you looked at me when I presented you with my business plan,” his son said with a smile.
“Okay. You got me there. I had my doubts at first—but only at first.”
“A hundred grand is a whole lot of reason to have those kinds of doubts, Dad.”
“Yes, but we’d have invested roughly that much had you gone to an Ivy League school for four years which would have likely turned into five, so maybe we got off easy,” his father said with a grin.
“So…you want to take a chance on me and bankroll one more?”
“Whoa! Slow down there, cowboy. Are you serious?” his dad asked.
“Very,” his son replied. “I just paid you back everything you loaned me with interest and all in just 33 months. Not bad for a kid with no education, wouldn’t you say, Dad?”
His dad ran his hand through his hair, exhaled loudly then said, “No, not bad at all. All right. Let’s sit down and talk about it.”
Nearly three years ago, Chandler Caulfield didn’t just mildly surprise his parents when he told them he wasn’t going to Princeton even after having been accepted; they were blown out of the water. His mother cried and his father pleaded with him not to throw away his future. And that’s when he turned the tables on them on reminded them how they’d always told him each person needed to do what made him or her or happy for society to function optimally. If you like to paint then paint. If I enjoy repairing cars let me do that. By doing what we most love we maximize our own happiness, and the end result is a better society even though that’s not the goal of following ones dreams. It’s just a very nice by-product.
That reminder was followed a few days later with a detailed business plan that also floored his father, Gil Caulfield, a successful real estate developer in the Seattle area. He’d purchased a carwash he planned to demolish and use the space for retail stores until his son convinced him he could make it profitable again.
Gil had presented many business plans himself to various investors, but his then 18-year old son’s was as detailed and thorough as anything he’d ever produced, and after examining it for several days, he took a huge risk and bankrolled the project which began with renovation and included advertising and marketing which had all paid off rather nicely.
Now, less than three years later, his soon-to-be-21-year old son, had just paid back the money he’d loaned him, in full and with interest. That too, stunned the older Caulfield.
“So before you dive into your second venture, do you ever do anything other than work, Chandler?” his dad asked him.
“I run. I work out. I bicycle when the weather’s nice. I read when I can. Why?”
His dad smiled then said, “I’m talking about making time for relationships. With the fairer sex, of course. You know…girls.”
Chandler laughed then said, “Yeah. I know what the fairer sex is, Dad. And I do go out. Sometimes.”
His mother wasn’t there so he smiled and said, “Occasionally I hook up. I just don’t talk about it much.”
“I know you’re still young,” his dad said. “Shoot, you’d be in your junior year of college if you’d taken that path, and I’m sure you’d be doing your fair share of ‘hooking up’ there, too. Just don’t tell your mom that, okay? She’s no prude, but she’s kind of got her heart set on a big wedding for her only child someday so if you ever feel like actually dating someone, I’m sure you’d make her very happy.”
Again, his son laughed and told his father, “Dating’s not exactly my thing, Dad. I don’t find going out with girls my age exactly stimulating anyway. Well, physically, they’re just fine in that respect, but when it comes to discussing anything beyond reality TV it gets pretty dicy. It’s got an upside and a downside to it. The upside is I know all about the Kardashians. The downside is I know all about the Kardashians.”
His dad laughed as he fully understood the obsession with and the absurdity of reality TV.
“No, I get it. Having the kind of mind you do, and frankly, being as good looking as you are, can make that a real challenge. Not the hooking up part, of course. That’s easy. Finding an attractive, interesting, intelligent woman is a lot more difficult. I don’t envy you, but I do know you’re smart enough to figure out how to make that work to your advantage. Just think it about it, okay?”
“For Mom, right?” Chandler said with a grin of his own.
“Okay, fine. bursa escort I surrender!” his dad said holding up his hands. “Let’s look at those plans, shall we?”
Thirty days later, Chandler Caulfield was closing on his second carwash just six weeks before his 21st birthday, and he was ready to attack this next challenge with as much energy as he had the first.
That would be no small task considering how he’d spent an average of 14 hours a day at his first location seven days a week personally drying and waxing cars after his customers spent between $5 and $10 to go through his carwash.
In addition, he also ran the administrative and managerial ends of the business. He’d unfailingly introduce himself to each new customer and speak to the repeats calling them by name even after not seeing them for days or even weeks. The harder he worked the more business came his way, and the more customers that showed up, the more they told their friends about the happy young owner of the most successful carwash in town. Which, of course, resulted in more business and more money and more customers and….
After a long, grueling first day at the new location, Chandler had to ask himself if maybe his dad had a point. It was beginning to feel like all work and no play really was making Johnny a dull boy. Or at least a guy named Chandler Caulfield. And yet he knew there would be time to play later on. Later on as in after he’d opened several more locations and could afford to play. For now, his life was work and more work with his only diversion a run or a bike ride and every other day, some time in a gym lifting some light-to-medium weights.
The only real issue with a new location was having to trust someone to run the first carwash. Yes, Chandler could divide his time between them, but the first location was well-established while the new location needed him there full time. So for the time being, his best employee, a man of about 40 named Carl, was in charge at the first place while Chandler sought to build clientele at the second.
Carl was friendly and conscientious, but not exactly the best manager as he really hated telling other people what to do and he wasn’t exactly ‘top shelf’ when it came to paperwork. For now, Carl was the best he had, and finding the time to interview and hire someone better would have to wait while he hoped the first location didn’t start losing customers.
The next three days were every bit as long, and as luck would have it, the change machine into which his customers fed bills was on the blink. Rather than turn away customers, he gave everyone who wanted to stay a wash and wax for just $5 as he made change manually from the petty cash box he kept on hand. If he couldn’t make change or if they didn’t have cash with them, he let them go through for nothing or for whatever they could pay. Yes, it was costing him a few dollars per car, but he knew that turning them away meant zero dollars and angry customers who might never come back which was far worse.
He got someone out to repair it the next day and things seemed to be back on track until around 11am when Chandler heard a bloodcurdling scream from inside the carwash. He was at the far end drying a vehicle when everyone froze.
“What the hell?” he said as he ran to his end of the wash itself where he could see inside.
It took him a second to make sense of what he was seeing, but after a quick look around, he knew he wasn’t imagining it. There was a woman outside of her vehicle, standing there soaking wet, her face and body mostly covered in a soapy goo screaming and trying to look around as the large brushes spun as soap and water sprayed everywhere.
Chandler ran to the side of the building and hit the emergency cutoff switch bringing everything to an immediate stop. He then went in through the side door and found the woman still screaming hysterically.
“Ma’am? Are you okay?” he called out.
As soon as she saw him she shrieked, “My baby! I can’t find my baby!”
Chandler couldn’t see anything but white soap and suds, but he could hear her quite clearly. Trying not to slip and fall, he quickly walked around the woman’s SUV and saw the back rear door was slightly open. He could see an empty carseat inside then got very concerned.
He walked the length of the carwash checking every nook and cranny all to no avail. And then he saw her—quietly sitting at the start all by herself. The woman’s ‘baby’ was a little girl who looked to be three or maybe four years old at most.
“Hey there! Is that your mommy’s car?” Chandler asked as he knelt beside her and pointed to the vehicle halfway through the carwash cycle.
“Yes. It is,” she told him matter of factly.
“Well…aren’t you supposed to be inside it? he asked as he heard the woman still screaming.
“I wanted to do the slidy thing,” she said.
“What slidy thing is that?” he asked.
“Where you put the money in. I wanted to put the dollar in but the car drove away.”
“Listen, can I take you back to your mom?” he asked bursa escort bayan still not sure what she was telling him.
“Yes. You may,” she said politely with a nod.
The little girl reached up and took his hand and said, “I don’t have a daddy anymore. He went to heaven with the anjuls. Mommy says they have wings so that means they can fly.”
“I’m so sorry,” Chandler said.
“No, it’s okay ‘cuz my daddy has wings now, too. Mommy says he watches over us so I knew he would send someone to find me,” she informed him.
As they carefully walked through the soapy mess, she asked, “Do you wanna be my daddy?”
He ignored her question and in his kindest tone of voice said, “My name is Chandler. What’s yours?”
“I’m Avery,” she told him.
She pointed to a moving mess of suds and said, “That’s my mommy. Why is she’s laying down and why is she all soapy?”
“Oh, no,” Chandler said when he realized she slipped and fallen down. He could see one spike from a pair of high heeled shoes and was pretty sure he knew what happened.
“Are you okay?” he asked as he bent to down to help her up.
Clearly she wasn’t as she was now crying out in pain until the little girl said, “Why are you taking a bath in here, Mommy?”
The woman sat up and tried to wipe away the suds covering her face then shrieked, “My baby!” reaching out for her.
The little girl stood back and shook her head.
“Uh-uh. You’re wet,” she told her mother. “I don’t want to be all soapy like you.”
“Where did you go Miss Avery Marie? You scared me to death!”
“When you got out to put money in the slidy thing, I got out, too, cuz you always let me do it. Then the car drove away so I just sat down and waited like you teached me do do. And then Daddy sent this nice man to come and find me, and I told him he could be my new daddy. He doesn’t think you would like that, but I think he’s really nice so…could he be? Pleeease?”
Chandler’s first concern was their safety. The second was calling his attorney because this had ‘lawsuit’ written all over it.
“Ma’am? Before you try and stand up, let’s get you out of those shoes,” Chandler offered.
“Oh, right. That’s why I slipped. I was trying to move around and everything was so wet and slick.”
“Did you get hurt?” he asked afraid to find out the answer.
“My knee hit the ground pretty hard, but I think I’m okay,” she said as he helped her stand up. “As long as my daughter’s okay, I’ll be fine.”
He offered his shoulder as stability and noticed she was limping heavily as they walked. He hadn’t been sued yet, but knew it was only a matter of time.
“Come on, let’s get you hosed down and dried off, and then we’ll get your car through the wash. Everything is on me, of course.”
Two of his guys used water hoses on the human ball of suds until it slowly turned into a person and then into a woman who looked almost ridiculously funny. Except that there was nothing funny about it from an owner’s point of view.
Chandler had someone else go get into the vehicle before he started up the conveyer system again then told his guys to dry it and wax it while he asked the woman to come to his office.
“No, I just need to get going,” she said. “I was taking my daughter to register for school, but my car needed to be washed so badly I decided to run through the carwash real quick. I use the other one over on 14th street because it’s near my house, but this one is closer to where I work. Or used to anyway.”
That was Chandler’s other location, but he wasn’t going to bring that up. For now making sure she was okay was priority one.
His guys handed her some towels, and she did her best to dry her hair a little and soak up the rest of the wetness, but it was a losing cause.
“Can I do anything?” Chandler asked. “I could take you somewhere if you need a ride. Or we can put a bunch of towels in your vehicle to at least keep most of the water off the seats.”
“No. That won’t be necessary. This was all my fault. I still have no idea how my daughter even got out. Even worse, how could I not have noticed?” she said looking at Avery every few seconds now to make sure she was still there.
“Well, I’m still very sorry this happened. I’m the owner, by the way, so if your attorney needs to get in touch with me, he or she can….”
“My attorney? Oh, no. Definitely not. I’m the one who created the mess. It’s certainly not your fault,” she assured. “I was thinking you’d probably call child services on me for negligence, and then I freaked out about losing custody because I… I lost my child, for heaven’s sakes.”
The woman was shaking from the cold as she said, “She’s all I’ve got. If anything happened to her I’d….”
“Don’t cry, Mommy. Everything will be fine, okay? Daddy has wings now so he can watch over us, memmer?”
She looked at Chandler and said, “But he’s invisdibul. Only the other anjuls can see him. Oh, and so can Jee-zahs.”
“I didn’t know how else to explain her father’s death last year escort bursa so I…improvised,” she said quietly, now shaking like a leaf.
An employee handed Chandler three of the largest terrycloth towels they had, and he draped one of them over the woman’s shoulder and handed her another while he held onto the the third.
Chandler grabbed a couple more just in case then asked, “Won’t you please come into the office where it’s warm? I can get you a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and I really will take you anywhere you need to go. I’ll pay for a taxi, as well.”
“I love hot chock-uh-lot!” the girl said. “Do you have marshamallows, too?”
“Avery,” he mother said.
“But I like them, Mommy,” she replied.
“Won’t you please come in and sit down for a minute or two while we finish your vehicle?”
“I really need to get going. But please don’t worry. I’m not going to sue you or anything. I hate when people do that when they either caused the problem or didn’t get seriously injured.”
“I have really good coffee inside,” Chandler said smiling at the woman.
“Please, Mommy? Can we please get some hot chock-uh-lot and marshamallows? Pleeeese???”
“I hate spoiling her and I never did before…my husband…you know…but now I have trouble saying ‘no’ to her.”
She looked at Chandler and said, “Are you sure you don’t mind? I mean, I’m still very wet.”
“We have tons of towels, and we kind of deal with lots of water for a living around here so, yes, I’m sure,” he told her with a polite smile.
“Well, I could use a cup of hot coffee,” she said.
“All right! Then follow me, please,” Chandler said.
“We’re staying?” the little girl said with a big gasp. “Yaaaay!!!”
“Can I have lots of marshamallows?” Avery asked.
She looked at her mother then added, “Please?”
Chandler opened the door then set a towel down on the floor and another one on a chair before inviting her to sit down.
“Cream and sugar?” he asked after pouring her a cup.
“Just a splash of cream, please,” she replied.
“And lots and lots of marshmallows for you, right?” he said to the little girl.
“Yes, please!” she back now very excited.
Chandler poured himself a cup then sat next to the woman who’d finally stopped shivering.
“Your daughter told me her name, but I haven’t caught yours yet,” Chandler said.
“Oh, sorry. I’m still a little rattled. I honestly have no idea how my daughter got out of her carseat and the door without me noticing. I can’t even think about what might have happened had she gone in front of the vehicle of if someone other than you had found her.”
The woman tried to smile then said, “You were concerned I might sue you. I’m still a little concerned you might call child services.”
“No. Not a chance. I can already tell how close you two are. It won’t make you feel any better, but accidents really do happen.”
The woman shook her head then remembered she still hadn’t introduced herself.
“Sorry. I’m Hadley. Hadley Kimball,” she said. “And you know my daughter Avery already.”
“Why yes, I do,” he said. “She’s a very grownup little lady.”
“I’m this many now,” Avery said holding up four tiny fingers.
“Yesterday was her birthday, and I was taking her to register her for school,” Hadley said.
“It’s only pre-school, Mommy? Memmer?” she said as she blew on her drink only to reach for a marshmallow with her fingers.
“She doesn’t miss a thing,” her mother said. “If you told me, please forgive me, but I don’t believe I caught your name.”
“It’s Chandler,” he told her.
“It’s a pleasure, Mr. Chandler. Thank you for being so kind.”
Chandler smiled then explained.
“My first name is Chandler. My last name is Caulfield.”
“Sorry, Mr. Caulfield,” she said apologetically. “I guess I was thinking of Friends. You know…Chandler Bing?”
Chandler did indeed know. He’d heard that so many times he’d lost count. Rather than mention it he just said, “Yes, I’ve heard the name. I’m just one of those lucky people with two last names like Anthony James or Terry Thomas or….”
“Hadley Kimball?” she offered with a warm smile of her own.
“Well, okay. Yes,” he willingly agreed with a smile.
“Listen, I really should get going. I’ll have to go home and start all over and then head back to the county office and try this again,” she told him. “But thank you so much for the coffee.”
“And the hot chock-uh-lot with marshamallows! Can I take it in the car with me, Mommy? Pleeease?”
“I can give her a lid if that would help,” Chandler offered.
“Well, I guess that would be okay,” her mother said.
She looked at Avery then said to her, “Heaven forbid I tell you you can’t do something, right?”
“Have you warmed up at all?” Chandler asked.
“Oh, yes. I feel much better, thank you,” she told him.
“My guys will have your car waxed, vacuumed out, and all ready to go when we get back outside. And your next carwash is free.”
“No, I can’t do that,” Hadley told him. “I don’t take something for nothing from anyone, especially when I caused the problem. And I can promise you I will be back, Mr. Caulfield. I really like having a clean car, but I hate washing it.”