March 1999 Sincerely Sire Newsletter
The Tire Guy
osemarie and I take one day off a week. The morning of our most recent day off we were looking forward to going to the gym (kind of), then going to a late big lunch to make up for attending the gym, and then going to see a movie and eating popcorn and candy. But first I had a very small matter to take care of, a slow leak in my rear right tire. I had been filling it up for weeks, every three or four days. I just hadn’t had time to get it fixed. But the time I was spending at the gas station and the fortune I was spending in quarters to buy compressed air was starting to bug me. In fact it bothered me so much that I finally decided to . . to . . . start filling my tire up with a bicycle pump.
Do you have any idea how long it takes to put thirty pounds of pressure in a car tire with a bicycle pump when you can’t get a snug fit on the tire valve to start with and you’re pumping as fast as you can all dressed up in your work clothes sweating like a wart hog with your wife standing there laughing at you saying “Why don’t you just get it fixed?”
So even though I could have procrastinated several more weeks or even months I finally decided to get the tire repaired on our day off. I had it all figured out. I would drop the car off at the tire shop, Roe and I would go to the gym and then pick it up when we were done. No time lost. A good plan. A great plan.
So, after driving down to the tire shop and waiting a respectable 20 minutes, the tire guy finally came over and looked at my tire. “Can’t fix that,” he said. It’s on the side of the tire. Can’t get a patch to lay down.”
“But this is a near-new tire, I replied. Can’t you do something?”
Here’s what he said, “Nope.”
Well there goes a hundred bucks I thought. I hate it when that happens. I told him to put on the new tire and left. On the way to the gym, I remembered that I wanted the tires rotated, so I called and talked to some other tire guy and asked him to please rotate the tires as well. He said no problem.
On the way back from the gym, I called from Roe’s car and confirmed that my car was ready. She dropped me off and headed home.
I paid the tire guy and he gave me my key along with the key pad for the remote door locks and alarm. But when I went to my car and pushed the key pad, the doors wouldn’t unlock. I pushed and pushed the key pad, I set off the alarm, I pulled at all four door handles but the car would not open. I tried the key but it didn’t work either. I called the tire guy over and he did everything exactly as I had just done but it still wouldn’t open. He called the manager over and he did everything exactly the same as the tire guy and I had just done. It wouldn’t open.
Here’s what the tire guy said, “Sorry.”
So there I was. Hum? I knew I shouldn’t have fixed that tire.
The tire guy let me use his phone. I called the eight hundred number on my key pad, and they told me they had no idea what was wrong. Must be some problem with my car.
Then I called the Auto Club. While I was waiting for them to get there I absentmindedly turned the old tire around and around in my hands, blackening them in the process, looking for the nail in the side of my tire. I couldn’t find it, they must have pulled it out.
About a half an hour later the Auto Club guy showed up. He had the car open in about two seconds. I remember thinking, why bother to lock it?
By now, I had been there nearly two hours, but at least the car was open, my new tire was on and I was free to leave . . . Oops. What was that I spied? My right front tire now looked mighty low on air. I got my tire gauge out of my car that I had been using to check my right rear tire every time I pumped it up, and checked the right front tire. It only had 15 pounds of air. How could that be? It was the right rear tire they had replaced. There was nothing wrong with the right front tire. I marched back to the tire guy. “Do you check the air pressure in all the tires when you rotate them?” I asked evenly. Here’s what he said, “Yep.”
“Well then how come my right front tire has only got . . .?” I stopped in mid-sentence. That right front tire had looked very familiar come to think of it, and I never could find the nail in the tire they took off. I went back out to my car and took a close look at the right front tire. I ran my fingers along the outer edge of the tire, and there it was, the same nail in the same spot as was in my right rear tire, because it was my right rear tire.
I told the tire guy they had replaced the wrong tire, and he reluctantly admitted the mistake but said it was my fault because I had asked one person to replace the tire and another to rotate the tires and that once you’ve got two guys working on the same order anything can happen!
What had happened was that they had rotated the tires first and then replaced the right rear tire, which was really the right front tire.
So now, I guess, since it was my mistake, they made me wait a long
time before they started to put the original right front tire back where it belonged, on my car.
An hour or so later, at five minutes to five, the tire guy was, finally, almost done. I knew this because I had been sitting on the curb watching him work at an excruciatingly slow pace as he removed the bad tire and put the good one back on the rim. All that was left for him to do was to mount the tire on the car. Five lug bolts and I was outa there.
Oh my gosh. I had forgotten about Roe. She was probably worried sick about me. I was supposed to be home hours ago. Here’s what she said when I called her “Huh? What?” She was so concerned about my whereabouts that she had fallen asleep while reading “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
I returned to my place at the curb to watch the tire guy finish. He had the tire in his hands and was about to mount it on the car when he froze in mid-step and dropped it. I thought he’d had a stroke. But then he turned, like a robot, and walked out of the shop and never came back. Thirty minutes later another tire guy came out and finished the job. I asked him what had happened to the other tire guy and he said that the first tire guy got off at five o’clock.
It was dark by the time I got out of there. The next day, and this is the truth, my right front tire was nearly flat. I couldn’t believe it. I drove back to the tire guy and said, “Look at my tire. I can’t believe it.”
The tire guy looked at me the same way that he had when I told him they had replaced the wrong tire. Like it was my fault. When I pointed out that there was nothing wrong with the tire until they ripped it off my car and then put it back on, he said I shouldn’t of had two guys working on the same order. That anything can happen when you’ve got two guys working on the same order. He grudgingly took the tire off and discovered that the tire valve had been damaged. Gee I wonder how that had happened? He fixed the valve and didn’t charge me, which probably saved his life.
What have I learned from this experience? First of all I’ve learned that I would probably have to disappear for about a week before Roe would miss me. Second, “If it’s broke, don’t fix it.” And finally, never, ever, get two guys working on the same order, because, that’s right, you’ve got it. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!