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WSB’s Mark Arum & His Jeep Cherokee

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Of all the cars I’ve ever owned – from sports cars, to trucks to SUV’s— my favorite is my 1998 Jeep Cherokee. I still own it and will probably always own it. It is a beast. It has a five-speed manual transmission and it has seen and driven through it all. Ice storms, snow storms, floods: This fiend of a car has tamed them all.

My 1998 Jeep Cherokee has taken me on long trips up mountains and over sandy beaches. It has never let me down. That being said, it has certainly seen better days. There is a huge dent on the back left fender (don’t ask). There are various nicks and dings all along the body. The interior is disintegrating. There are holes on the cloth seats, the steering wheel padding is long gone and the interior lining of the roof is shedding like big furry dog. Yes, it is actually shedding. The radio works, though— when it wants to.

The good news? It runs great. I never have to worry when I crank my baby up and head out on the roads. Despite my car’s haggard appearance, I still try to treat her well. My baby deserves to be pampered with frequent oil changes, tune-ups and of course, Mr. Clean Car Wash’s Signature Shine Car Washes.

However, a couple of weeks ago when I brought my car in for her wash it occurred to me: Despite my car’s age and appearance, I still ask for the “new car” air freshener. Forget the fact the Bill Clinton was President when my beast was a new car—I always insist on “new car”. Why do I do that? Who am I fooling? No one on the planet would think for one second that my ’98 Cherokee is a new car. I even laughed out loud when I realized I was asking for “new car” scent for my now 18-year-old automobile.

I’ve asked some of my male friends what scents they get when they get their cars cleaned. A lot choose “leather” or “neutral”. Some prefer “strawberry”, “cherry” or “vanilla”. Not me though. I know a floral or fruity aroma wouldn’t fit my well-weathered SUV. I guess of all of the scents, “neutral” or “leather” are the closest to my preference (even though there is not one stitch of leather in my Jeep since the steering wheel cover disappeared years ago.).

Though I find what these dudes like to have their car smell like very interesting– I’m still going to get “new car” for my baby. Why? Though my car might not look like a new car, she sure deserves to smell like a new car given all we’ve been through. After all, she is my favorite—and I want nothing but the best for my beast.

WSB’s Mark Arum & His Clean Car

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

I’ve been working in the media business, specifically in television, radio and in newspaper, for over 25 years. One of the best parts of my job remains being invited to talk to students in high school and college that are interested in a career in media.

I’m often asked what my best advice is for young, aspiring journalists just entering the job market. My answer is always the same: Never be late to work, never call in sick, live close to the office and always keep your car clean. That last piece of advice often receives bewildered looks and head tilts from the audience.

Why is it important to keep your car clean?

My first job out of college was working an entry level position at a major-market radio station. I was a good employee, and was always willing to go above and beyond. I was approaching my six-month review when my boss scheduled a meeting with me to go over my work to date. I expected a quick, “you’re doing fine buddy” meeting in his office. Instead, he suggested we go out for a cup of coffee to discuss things. Sounded good to me until he said, “Lets jump in your car and head to the diner down the street.”

I immediately broke out in a flop sweat. I panicked. My car was an absolute mess. I had an older Mazda 626. While it was a very solid, very reliable car— both the inside and outside of it were disgusting. That 90-foot walk through the work parking garage was the longest, most agonizing walk I’ve ever taken in my life. I ran ahead of my boss to try and clear out some of the junk I’d had stashed on the passenger seat. I opened the door and quickly tossed papers, old fast food bags, soda cans, etc. into the back seat so my boss would have somewhere to sit.

I will never forget the look of disgust on his face. The two mile drive to the diner felt like three hours. We hit every stoplight on the way to the restaurant, prolonging my agony.

When we finally got to the diner, my normally jovial boss seemed gruff and cold. We had a cup of coffee and he quickly reviewed my performance—providing mostly positive comments. Yet, we drove back to the station in silence. My boss’ perception of me had changed and I could feel it. His disappointment was palpable.

Weeks later I applied for a promotion inside the company and was denied. Months later, I applied again—but this time for a better job within the station. I didn’t get it. My career hit a brick wall and I firmly believe it was because of my dirty car.

After that fateful drive to the diner, I made sure to always keep my car spotless inside and out.

Luckily, that boss moved on to another station later that year. When my new boss was hired, you better believe that my car was clean everyday.