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4:50 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

SLIDESHOW: Workers fight the dust and fingerprints at the Detroit auto show

When you walk onto the showroom floor at the North American International Auto Show, the bright lights and polished shine of the cars surround you.

You'd think a wash, wax, and polish for the cars would be good enough.

I mean, these things are indoors. What can muck them up?

Dust. That's what.

And not just dust... fingerprints too! (for heaven's sake)

A fingerprint on the Tesla Model S at the Detroit auto show.
For shame!! A fingerprint on the Tesla Model S at the Detroit auto show.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

So at the North American International Auto Show, you see a small army of people hovering over the cars with feather dusters, a little towel, and a spray bottle.

Carlos Bryant has been keeping the Bentleys looking sharp at the Detroit auto show for more than a decade.

Carlos Bryant keeps the Bentleys looking sharp.
Carlos Bryant keeps the Bentleys looking sharp.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

He says media days keep him busy.

"While the media is here, I'm wiping these cars down about once every ten minutes," said Bryant. "But during the public show, it's about once every 30 minutes."

Auto writers, photographers, and bloggers put their grubby little hands all over the Bentleys as they get a closer look at the wood paneling and leather interiors. During the public show, you need a special invitation to put your hands on the car.

Don Juel is a supervisor with NDI Group, the business Bryant works for. The company keeps the shine on the Bentleys, the VWs, the Fords, and the Scions.

Juel says people would be surprised by the amount of dust that falls onto these cars.

"The cloth panels in the rafters above the cars definitely helps to keep the dust level down," said Juel, "but it still drops down."

When I asked if the dust level had gotten worse since the construction at Cobo Center, both Juel and Bryant agreed the dust level had gone down since the construction project. Neither knew why, but they both could feel an improvement.

It means fewer passes with the feather duster.

Now if they could just get the journalists to don some white gloves.