Many of us have heard and read in various media outlets about so-called ‘slavery’ work conditions at ‘Hand Car Wash’ centres in the UK. It would be inappropriate for me to talk about all of them; however, sharing some of my inside-out experience would be useful for readers to understand how some of these businesses are being run and why they should not exist within civilised society as they are.
Like many of those desperate to survive, I got into a similar situation some years back. Big ideas I followed over the years turned into the broken dreams that let me down in various aspects of my life. An ironic suggestion to ‘go clean cars!’ from someone triggered a straightforward action to apply for a position at one of the car washing centres in Barnet, North London. There was no need to wait long: I received an offer as soon as the next day.
An unexpectedly cold British winter at the start of a new year was the beginning of my new (as I felt) ‘downgraded’ path to somewhere. Buckets of cold water, numb fingers, ten-hour shifts seven days per week, and a big sorry. Begging environment became my daily routine for the next three months. Someone would ask why I didn’t go to Tesco, for example. This is a problem with people suffering from an emotional breakdown, or the ‘escape now’ syndrome. You go down as far as you can go, and at the bottom of the shithole you find something you need, or you probably die.
Salary: 40 pounds a day, cash in hand. On the papers, it says you work part-time up to 16 hours a week. I agreed to that, as I did not see any other choice at the time. Now ask yourself, why did so many car washers not re-open after the lockdown? Some did, but many did not. I believe economic experts are capable of answering these questions very easily.
Business within a business: I washed as many cars as possible from 8 am till 6 pm. It’s the quantity that counts for the company to generate its income. However, there was something else that caught my eye from day one. It was drug trading handled by the staff members to add some extra cash to their miserable salaries. Sadly, their cocaine addiction was not a secret either. Working within an environment like this has raised some questions in my mind that I have no clear answers to so far. I was particularly concerned about some of the workers.
I remember the guy, a coffee-loving Italian fella joining the line of car washing warriors. A hipster with a long-term and heavy drug addiction unintentionally begging for professional help. The clear signs of poor personal hygiene, tremors, seizures, poor physical coordination, and watery eyes said a lot about the status of this individual. Nobody cared. Instead, he was dragged by his colleagues deeper into the problems that could lead him towards a very tragic end.
I was there asking myself how it is possible to go dark like this on High Street during broad daylight in front of thousands of eyes, every single day. There are reasons why similar businesses gained such a bad reputation, taking down a whole industry that should instead strive to reach the top of the market by offering the ability for people to grow and have earnings competitive to self-respected businesses.
I spent three months thinking and re-thinking in detail about my past, present, and future. In my subconsciousness, I knew that a Big Depression would provide me with a good fat kick for a new start. Not everyone feels this way. People are stuck out there for years, used and underpaid. And nothing is going to change until some radical reforms take place.
Thanks for reading!
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