Friday, May 30, 2008

Day one hundred and fifty two ... Wear and tear.

Sometimes everything just works like it should.

Then there are the days the guy at the tire store tells you he can't repair your flat, and you have to get four new tires.

That's what happened to me yesterday and it damn near floored me. 

I take good care of my car. I get it the necessary oil changes almost every 3,000 miles, and I try not to drive it too hard.

But, I also drive in some sketchy areas where nails grow wild like sweet briar. 

It was a slow leak

I was driving with my aunt last week and a guy honked at me and pointed down at the back wheels of my car. At first I thought, "Yeah, I know, sick rims." Then I came to and realized he was probably pointing out something important that I should be aware of.

I had been riding on a tire that was well past half empty. We found an air pump without too much trouble and arrested the situation for the day. The next few days I played catch-up and kept it as full as I could. I had to get through the holiday weekend, then I planned to take care of it.

Which brings us to yesterday.

I stopped at the popular place downtown where there were 10 people gathered in a starkly appointed waiting room. I spent five minutes at the counter with no one in front of me and endured an uncomfortable game of avoidance with the clerk. This, I was fine with, as it allowed me to turn around and leave without engaging in the rites of commerce.

I went to the next place, where I was the only customer. The man was nice enough, and regrettably informed me that due to my Subaru's all-wheel drive, I would need four new tires, or face possible transmission problems in the future. He said the other three tires I had on had at least a few thousand miles on them, which made it all the worse. He quoted me a price of almost four hundred dollars. I shuddered, filled up my water bottle at his cooler, used the bathroom, said I'd be back, and fired up the Smart Start.

My donut had a few more miles to endure.

But here's the thing. I went down the street and into the other tire store (there are at least 6 in my town). I talked to the man there. He told me his buddy in Greenfield might have a used one, but warned me that it needed to be within an eighth of an inch difference in tread-wear or I was looking for trouble. I took his card, wrote down the name and number of his associate, and left.

I called him today.

See, these are the things I enjoy doing now. I have accrued the confidence in myself to enable me to make that uncomfortable phone call--the one where I must attempt to find the best deal and lowest price for an item from someone whose job depends on selling me something five times the price.

It's that fear of rejection that I don't experience anymore. I know it sounds weird, but I always used to not want to bother asking more than I had to from someone, on the off chance they might think I'm some kind of degenerate, which not too long ago I very much was.

And, much like my car, the average human needs a certain amount of balance in their life or the whole operating system may suffer damage. If one facet has too much wear and tear on it, it makes the other, less worn aspects, cover for it, eventually bringing to the fore cracks in the foundation that hadn't been planned for. 

I called up the man in Greenfield.

He put me on hold and went downstairs and checked his stock.

He came back on and told me he had the tire I needed, and it would be $40 plus installation.

Hot damn!

So, I rode that donut the 20 miles or so to the store. I went in, and the man measured the two tires. The tread-wear was exact; we had a match.

He had his guy install it and took the old one off my hands for four bucks disposal fee. The donut got put back, and my tire-changing tools returned to their hidey-holes.

That phone call saved me three hundred and fifty bucks.

Once again, it worked because my life, regardless of the situations outside of my control, is balanced; all facets are contributing to my success. Like the donut I had used for the last few days, I had been employing a crutch--several of them--just to make it through to the next day. They worked like they should for a temporary spell, then, if you continue to rely on them, you risk suffering damage to the rest of the machine.

The same goes for repairing one worn piece with a new one; the newer, overachieving element is out of place with the older, more in-sync parts, and you still have a problem.

I won't say I'm at top working condition. For that I'd need a whole new set of tires, and I simply am not ready for a full replacement, and neither are my treads--they still have a few thousand miles to go. But, in taking the initiative and seeking out a remedy that will satisfy the rest of my parts, I can keep moving ahead with steady, confident, level momentum.

I'll put that $350 to use filling up my tank, driving my awesome car and preparing all of my tires for a predictable end-of-life replacement. They've traveled pretty far, but there's still miles to go.

And anyway, donuts work much better, enjoyed one at a time, dipped in a nice, hot, cup of tea.  

Thanks for reading.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good move, Alex. When you do have to replace the tires, I highly recommend that you go and see Russ at Goodyear (Northampton Tire?). When I needed a new set, I was able to open a Goodyear charge and not pay any interest for the first six months, allowing me to buy the tires over a six month period. I also bought that insurance and that took care of a couple of ruined tires for free.

State Fair is in my CD player in the car. I'll be listening for days. I just love you guys. The warmth of the friendship you all have just spreads and it's a happy feeling.

I'm glad you're doing well. Keep at it.