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    The chronicles of the used tire: A lesson in prioritizing


    2009 - 08.25

    So there you are at Champ Sports, looking to get some new shoes for the summer. These aren’t your typical flip-flops. Naw, these are your kicks, man. You’ve gotta have the latest Nikes or Adidas, whichever fits your style the best.But theres a problem. You’ve only got $60 in your wallet. Definitely not enough to pick up the new Lebron James jump-higher-run-faster b-ball shoes. So you wander on over to the clearance section, hoping they’ve got some cool leftovers from last year, but alas, it’s not to be. Just then a big guy in a trench coat and those sweet zebra striped pants from the 80’s walks up, and recognizing your predicament, tells you about this place down by the Snatch ‘N Grab called Zapatos Latino where they sell last year’s kicks, certified pre-owned. After grazing through the shoe aisle one more time, you decide to hit up this joint down the street. 20 minutes and $20 later, you’re out with a sweet pair of previously owned Nibs (New Balance) with some heel wear and minimal odor.

    Fast forward a couple of hours: You’re gettin ready to head out on the town with your beanhead when all of sudden you kinda stub your foot on the concrete. “Oh Shit!” you exclaim. The whole heel of your shoe has separated from the sole. You blew out your kicks! Back inside you wander, to slide back into those skanky looking shoes you’ve been wearing for the last 3 years. Now you know why you’re dating that whore. You’re ass was too cheap to buy some new damn shoes. You settled, Man, and they saw you coming a mile away.

    The point of this fable was to make you realize how ridiculous the idea of used shoes sounds. Nobody buys used shoes. Unless you’re really hard up and in which case, you should not have the internet to look at this. You can go to Wal-Mart and buy shoes for $20 bucks. (Hell, that’s where my work shoes came from and they’ve lasted through 6 months of hard abuse.) If you don’t buy used shoes, why the hell would you buy used tires? You’re car is infinitely more important to your safety than a pair of shoes, not to mention the safety of those around you. Think about this the next time you’re traveling down the freeway: See that car next to you going 80 MPH? Now, imagine that tire has the steel belts showing in it. Then imagine that tire coming apart and that car swerving into you. I see those tires everyday. That shit happens and people just come back and buy another one. There are occasions where used tires are acceptable, but it ain’t now. We’re talking about career used tire shoppers here.

    Below is the weekly budget of a used tire customer that we found in the parking lot at the tire store. I’ve written in the left margin to make it a bit clearer what some of the things listed are. At least rent is at the top. Oh and one other thing, if you have to budget for weed, you probably don’t need to be smoking it. That’s kind of when it becomes part of the problem rather than part of the solution. I like how the liquor allowance is twice the tire allowance. That, my friends, is why only new tire customers should be allowed to vote. Priorities.

    A slightly better budget than the current U.S. one

    A slightly better budget than the current U.S. one

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    Tales From Lilburn Tire & Martini Bar – Screw vs. Plug


    2009 - 07.13

    Every business has it’s share of crazy people, but I’ve never seen an industry as eat up with nucking futs as the tire business. Maybe it’s just because my Dad’s shop caters to the ‘least common denominators’ of the world. I could probably fill a book with the encounters I’ve had down there, but I lack the patience. I don’t work there full time anymore so I don’t get to bask in all the greasy glory like I once did, but working 4 hours on Saturday still provides its share of moments. The pickings have been slim lately, but this past Saturday delivered.

    “Biloxi, you helping this lady for me,” Oscar said in broken english. “She making trouble for me.” Oscar is Colombian and everybody likes him. Everybody except this woman. I was working on another car, but he said he’d finish it up. I hadn’t been paying much attention to what he was doing up to this point, but I had noticed that he was working on it in front of the bay, which is odd for him. Evidently, the woman’s car was ‘dirty’ and she didn’t want him driving it. She was also incapable of doing it herself according to Oscar.

    I walked out front to get the floor jack and pushed it underneath her car to jack it up. “What are you doing?” She asked. “Jacking your car up so I can take off the wheel and plug your tire.” I responded in my most emotionless voice. “Is the jack in the right spot?” She asked. “That other guy didn’t even look and I don’t want to bend the frame.” “Yep.” I replied and continued jacking the car up. (This car was no gem. I could have jacked it up by the door and it wouldn’t have mattered.)

    I started to take off the hubcap, which was held on by thin metal nuts that screw over the lugnuts. It is common practice to take these off with the airgun with a feather touch. “Stop! What are you doing? That’s the hubcap!” She exclaimed. “I know what it is,” I replied, trying my best to keep calm. I was hungover and sweating bullets in the hot sun. “I have to take this off to get to the lugnuts,” I said. To which she responded, “Are you sure? I don’t want you to mess it up so I have to go to the salvage yard and get another one.” “Ma’am,” I said, rather pointedly. “I know EXACTLY what I am doing and I would be finished by now if you would let me do my job.” “I was just making sure,” she responded. I said nothing.

    I finally got back to taking the wheel off and she says, “I want to keep that screw when you take it out.” I said “Okay.”

    I got the wheel off the car and started rolling it inside to plug the hole. “Wait.” She says. “For the love of God, what now?” I ask, my patience wearing extremely thin. “Let me look at that screw,” she says. I begrudgingly rolled the wheel over to her and let her look at it while it was still in there. “I know where that screw came from.” She said. ” No you don’t, but whatever.” I responded. It always amazes me when people say that about screws in their tires. Screws don’t have serial numbers that you can check against some huge government database. It’s not a freakin sperm sample you can test for DNA. It’s a screw. It’s in your tire and it’s worn down so much it no longer has a head. You have no f’n clue where it came from. Don’t go acuse your neighbor.

    This shut her up long enough for me to get the tire inside and plug it. This job should have taken me five minutes, start to finish, and there I was on minute Twelve. I rolled the tire back outside and handed her the screw so she could take it back to her lair and run forensics on it. I started to put the tire back on the car when she asked, “do you think that plug will hold better than this screw?” “Uh, what?” I asked. “Do you think that plug will keep the air from leaking out better than that screw?” She clarified. “Well, considering the screw is what put the hole in your tire, and the plug is designed to fix that hole, I’d say so.” I answered. “Good,” she said. “I didn’t like having to put air in it everyday.” WTF?

    I got the tire put back on and reattached the hubcap without too much trouble. I did have to double check all the lugnuts and make sure they weren’t gonna come off. As I stood up to let the jack down, she asked me if I’d put the same valve stem cap back on. I replied that I had indeed, and walked off into the office before she could argue. She milled around in the bay for a couple of minutes before cornering me and asking me if I would double check to make sure I put the same valve cap back on. “I thought I saw you put mine on the table.” She said. (I didn’t.) My Dad was standing right there and he gave me that “just go do it and get her out of here look,” so I obliged him and walked back into the bays. How in the hell you’re supposed to double check something that is exactly like the next was far beyond me, but I gave it a cursory glance, and replied “Yep, that’s your cap.” She then hustled me for four more caps just in case she lost one (which totally negated her worry over whether or not I gave her the same one she already had). I immediately walked off and concerned myself with more important things so she would leave.

    As soon as she got in her car and left (without paying, I might add) my Dad said she had been in there once before and told Bret that she “didn’t like the way he was looking at her.” He told her to go to hell, but evidently she either went and came back or the window-licker bus hasn’t left yet.

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