I recently had to splurge and buy some new tires. Tire buying is always an interesting experience. I probably don’t do myself any favors by waiting until the metal from the steel belts start peeking out the side of the tires before I decide it might be time to buy some new ones.
When I was younger and I couldn’t afford fancy things like new tires, new clothes and electricity, I actually bought used tires. They actually sell those. Used tires are a real thing. You can pull up to a shady looking tire shop — usually in an abandoned Burger King — and as if they have any used tires. For around like $3 or something a tire, you can get a set of four non-matching tires that will get you an extra 5,000 to 6,000 miles. Not bad.
Now that I am making enough money to buy the good stuff, I go to the new tire store. I went to one of those new tire stores and I fully expected to see the Michelin Man. Just one time I actually want the Michelin Man to reach into his fat stomach area and fetch me four new tires. But that never happens in real life. It’s only a dream. Not like the dream I had the other night of being eaten by a giant Twinkie, but a dream nonetheless.
When I got to the new tire store, I immediately went to work.
”I need some new tires,” I told the tire clerk.
”What size do you need?” he asked.
What size do I need? I don’t know, they are about ”this” big,” I say, holding my hands apart about the size of that giant Twinkie from my dream. ”They are black with a big hole in the middle,” I say sheepishly (somebody’s been in the Thesaurus).
It was about this point that I realize the family of four sitting in the waiting room finishing up a copy of ”Field and Stream” are probably judging me for not knowing my tire size.
”Look at him,” they are probably saying, ”he doesn’t even know his tire size. And look at that ice cream stain on his shirt.”
Hey, now. That’s just a little too far, I think. And it’s a Twinkie stain, not ice cream. I’m not an animal.
But why am I supposed to know my tire size? Why is a tire size up there with my social security number and my mom’s telephone number.
Finally, we figure out the size of the tire, by actually — get ready for it — going to look at the current tires.
With the important stuff out of the way, it’s time to discuss pricing. Pricing usually ranges from about $39.99 to just shy of $1 million. Of course you can order the cheaper tires, but then that family of four starts whispering again.
”Look at him,” they are probably saying, ”he doesn’t even care about his family enough to spend $1 million on a new set of SAFE tires.”
Leave me alone, I think.
I select just a middle of the road tire. Get it? Middle of the road?
Anyway, I select a tire and the tire salesman goes back behind that door into the big room where all the noises are coming from. Whirrrrr! Spliffff! Zertttttt! Etc.!
I glance over at the family and they pretend to be engrossed on a story about hunting trophy llamas.
The tire clerk returns and promptly gives me the good news: ”We are out of that tire, but we can order them for you.”
Why are you out of stock? I have an average car with middle of the road tires. What exactly are you stocking back there: microwaves?
He can have them for me this afternoon. Another store has them across town.
”Okay,” I say, ”I’ll be back.”
In the meantime, I’m hoping the old tires, which by now look like NASCAR racing slicks, hold out until this afternoon.
I finally got my new tires. New tires always smell so good and look so pretty. They also have that little black rubber peach fuzz growing off of them. It’s really like Christmas day for my car.
I paid for the tires and even got the clerk to throw in one of those tire gauge thingies that I promptly put in my glove box and will never use.
Tires are a great thing. They are one of those things in the world that you really don’t notice until one goes flat on a busy highway, in rush hour, in August, in Texas. Then they become a very big deal.
I guess I’ll wrap this up now. If you have an idea for a future column, give me a shout. I’ll probably be out of that one, but I can order it for you. Whirrrrr! Spliffff! Zertttttt! Etc.!