Saturday, October 28, 2006

Meeting James, an Unexpected Entrepreneur and Evangelist, in a Parking Lot in Bethesda, MD

Getting a car wash Saturday afternoon in D.C. was the last thing on my mind.

In fact when driving in the nation's Capitol, I never get one. Locations are scarce and inconvenient and the lines way too long to make the monumental effort worthwhile.

I was focused on finding a certain crocheted chapeau, anyway, to give a friend for Christmas, and had run out to one of my favorite boutiques to look. With limited time, I drove into a paid lot behind the shop and ducked into the last parking place.

Enter James, the Entrepreneur and Evangelist.

Getting out of my car, I saw him scrubbing away on someone's BMW parked across the lot. What a great idea, I thought---getting a car wash here while shopping. And no down time!

As I stared at him and his buckets, he looked at me and said, "That car of yours looks like it could use a good washing. Give me twenty minutes and I'll have it looking like new for twenty dollars. My name is James. Everyone knows me here."

I liked this man's succinct, to-the-point pitch and, he was correct, my car hadn't been washed in weeks, for at least a thousand miles.

"Twenty dollars, huh," I said. The thought of my car looking clean and shiny was priceless. I had to contain my enthusiasm!

"Sold, James, nice to meet you," I said. Twenty dollars in twenty minutes. Go!

"I'll be back in a few."

Twenty-five minutes and no hat later, I was back. James was still working away.

So I sat down on the curb beside my car.

"You're from the South like me," he said. "I just love that accent."

James said he's a retired Marine who started washing cars in parking lots years ago. He made enough money to put his now grown daughter through four years at a good college and also support himself.

"I work seven days a week, except when it rains and when I go to church," he continued. "People love me to wash their cars here all year round, especially in icy weather. It's hard work but I do pretty well for myself. Today I live alone, it's just me and God. I like it that way."

Here was a happy, hard working man. A man content with who he is and what he does in life. A man who is an inspiration to sit and talk to in the back parking lot of a one of the toniest shopping areas in the country.

I pressed him to continue while I listened.

"I'm a believer in Jesus Christ. He came and died for my and your sins. I am thankful for that and try to live every day giving Him glory."

Does he think the end is near?

"Oh yes baby, The Almighty, He has the trumphet up to his mouth right now."

Well, I pressed, then what should we all do?

"Repent, know you need a Saviour and ask Christ into your life for real. Then read the Scriptures, pray and live like every day your last," he replied.

In the last few minutes we talked, he quoted me some of his favorite Bible verses which I wrote down to post on Sunday. He thanked me for bringing out the evangelist in him. But I said it was I who had the most to be grateful for that day.

Then James finished washing my car. And just as he said, it was shiny like new. I paid him $20 plus a good tip. And I thanked him again so much.

As I left that parking lot today, I realized that more than my car had gotten a shine. My soul was a bit spiffier than when I arrived.

Thank you James, for washing my car and walking the talk of your beliefs.

In a city of consummate power seekers and brokers, I met one of the truly powerful men in all of D.C.--- James, The Entrepreneur and Evangelist, working and preaching out of a back parking lot in Bethesda, Maryland.

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