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Only in SF: Of Course, There's a Burning Man Special at the Car Wash Today

Sticky sand from the Playa makes its way back to the Bay.

Nellie Bowles

I pulled into Tower Car Wash in San Francisco’s South of Market district, and the attendant poked his head in the window: “You have a good burn?” he guessed, proffering up a special brightly colored menu — Burning Man Specials.

The annual desert festival in Nevada ended yesterday — which means 70,000 people, including a big chunk of techies from San Francisco, are driving out of the weeklong rave and back to “the default world,” as they call it. A parade of sandy cars edged through the city all day.

Very sticky sand, as it turns out — the wait for a wash was three hours because of the demand today.

My Mini has a thick layer of that dust from the Playa, shorthand for the site of Burning Man. It doesn’t come off when you blow at it. It doesn’t come off when you wipe at it. It just sticks. I’d forgotten I had a rainbow fur stole and gold genie hat in the trunk and apologized when I started unloading it.

“Oh it’s cool, I’m into that stuff too,” the attendant said.

I’m not sure I’m into that stuff, but okay.

“Brave of you to bring your own car out there,” the attendant said.

Why? I asked.

He looked at the inch-deep layer of dust on the floor mats. I could smell alkaline sand coming out of my fan.

“Um,” he said. His manager walked over and popped his head in the window.

“You have fun on the Playa?” he asked.

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