This is "sklyakat": icky, oily, muddy slush. For a good part of the year, we have to walk in and around it. Oh, yes... And we DRIVE in it. When it melts, the streets are coated in thick, brown water that splatters EVERYWHERE. Your pants and coats get drops of it all over them. I'm quite relieved that I no longer have a toddler who repeatedly falls in it... That was quite a sight to see--and clean up! Nevertheless, both girls have two complete sets of outwear since one is often being washed.
Until we got a car, I didn't realize how hard the "sklyakat" makes it to drive! It whips up and coats all the windows, making it quite hard to see. It also coats the headlights--but gradually, so you don't realize how thick the dirt is until you turn on the lights and can't tell if they're working.
These lovely layers of mud are rather hard to clean off when they combine with ice and freeze all over the windows. I scrape off what I can, but as the windows warm, the remaining mud then melts. Kate pointed out that you also need to be sure to wipe off the license plates now that a new law took effect on January 1st that all plates must always be clean. As Kate also remarked, thank God they didn't mandate that the whole car must always be clean, too! Impossible! (That didn't stop the cops from giving me a hard time about my dirty car in November, though...)
We need to get the car washed once a week to keep it passably clean--clean enough so that we're not covered in grime by opening the doors, and clean enough to drive safely. Sometimes, though, the car is filthy again within an hour of having left the car wash! THAT is frustrating...
Since getting your car washed is such a necessity, there are often very long lines outside of the carwashes. It can take hours to get it done. If I can wait another day, I do... And I try again when the line isn't so long. To get the outside washed and the inside vacuumed costs about $35. But there are times when you have to get get it done right then and there because it has become too dangerous to drive--and then you're stuck waiting it out.
A little industry of carwash/cafes has sprung up; you can go inside while waiting for your car. I did just that on Monday evening, waiting an hour and a half until it was ready. Three days later, this is what the car already looks like!
Kind of makes you wonder about what you're breathing.
And no wonder the windows to the apartment get so coated in grime that whatever sunshine there is gets quite distorted! This also helps to explain why you need to wash the floors at least four times a week in order to keep the apartment clean; the grime just gets in somehow. (It was like that where we lived in Brooklyn, too; we were next to the expressway).
The girls sometimes play a game, trying to guess what color cars are beneath their coats of dirt. When drivers let weeks go by without washing their cars, you really can't tell what colors they actually are!
So how often do you wash your cars?