Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An amazing man sells tires.

It was 7:30am in the parking lot.

I knew my front right tire was unaligned by how the edge of it wore. I'm not a fan of wasting time, so I went to the tire place that opened earliest. 7:30am. After the long night that only ended 4 short hours ago, I wasn't in the best spirits. I didn't mind waiting rooms since they were basically free reading time, and I was only half way through Treason, eager to read more. But that didn't brighten the dullness of the sleep I missed last night, the night before, and tonight (working late, early meeting). Whomever was supposed to open was 10 minutes late, I entered after giving him a few minutes to settle. I was a little annoyed, but who isn't at 7:30? Besides, annoyance is no excuse for rudeness.

The man was middle-aged, with a prominent gut that pushed his belt almost comically low. He was the manager of the place, and spoke with a light accent and inflection I couldn't identify. I was bearded, unshowered, in worn cargo shorts, and the "commie hat" I'm well known for, barely containing my hair. When I spoke to him, I referred to him as "Sir" and kept eye contact as I always do, explained my situation, and asked if they'd be able to deliver before 10am. He said that it would not be a problem. Somewhere in the conversation, something shifted; (or perhaps it was always that way, and I just didn't pick up on it immediately) the conversation about getting a new tire for my car turned very friendly, and colloquial. Not nice, or polite, but genuinely friendly. I figured it just had to do with me calling him "Sir," since people react differently to the unexpected respect.

"Lets go out and check what size tires ya got, brother." As he checked, he shared a story about his brother with the same car, and he interrupted to comment on my tires as he checked them.
"Yup, looks like the alignment is off. That's why it's worn on the side like that."
"Hmmm. I don't like the looks of this one."
"Or this one!"
"Or this one!"
"Brother, I think you need 4 new tires!"

It wasn't much of a shock since It had been a while, and with my recent raise, and my successful usage of my savings account, I was happy to bite the bullet for the piece of mind. I wanted some performance tires anyway. (kinda funny, the example my dad always used to get me to put money into my savings was "What if you suddenly need 4 tires? You need your car to get to work, so you can't do without them, so what are you going to do if you don't have the emergency money ready?")

We went back inside, and he started looking up prices. "Now, I'll talk about tires all day if you let me, so I'll give you the short version! We've got these for this much, and those for that much. The first is more of a riding tire, so it'll make the ride a bit smoother, but the second is a quality performance tire, so you can expect much better handling than what you got now." When I told him I wanted the performance tires, I noted a big smile being forced into a small one.
What an odd fellow.

He printed out the work order, and began his rehearsed speech about the warranty, which included mention of him being a Southerner, a black and white kind of guy, and someone who believes there's no such thing as being kinda pregnant. Ahhh, a Southerner. No wonder he's so nice. He said he was a man of his word, and if he ever failed to deliver, he'd do everything in his power to make it right. He promised he'd have me out by 10 and invited me wait in the lobby area. I obliged, and was happy to return to my book.

After a while (An hour? 15 minutes? The book was good) he interrupted me, and told me he didn't have a tire in stock, so he bumped me up to a more expensive tire at no cost, then he asked me to follow him. I followed him to the counter, and he beckoned me back behind the counter, through the door, and into the garage where my car was lifted, tires at eye level.

He gestured to one of the new tires pridefully, "Check it out!" I looked at the tires and saw nothing particularly noteworthy. I nodded politely. "Those are some bea-utiful tires! See how they're just a tiny bit bigger than you old ones? They fill the wheel well better, so you get kind of a lowered effect, and they'll give you a little better gas mileage! Boy, when you drive it, it'll feel like a whole new car. You're gonna love it, brother!" He was confusing me now. Why was he saying all this? I looked again, and tried to see what he described, but once more; only tires. I looked back, and he was still looking at the tires, with a smile one size too big. When he turned to me again, I saw he was beaming like a kid on christmas. An overweight, middle aged man, giddy as a schoolboy. He only broke his smile to speak the short sentence that explained it all;
"I love tires."

My first reaction was to keep myself from laughing involuntarily, but I wasn't laughing. I was stunned. I managed some words of congruity, returned to the waiting area, and opened my book, but I was still processing what I had heard and seen.

First I thought about how he spoke.
He wasn't lying. In fact, I daresay it was the most genuine statement I've seen and heard spoken since I can remember. He was just speaking the direct truth to a good friend.

Then I thought about what he said.
This man, literally it seems, gets up on Monday, puts on a big smile and thinks to himself, "I'm going to do what I love today.
I'm going to sell tires"

Here in southern California, in the land of millionaires, yachts, expensive cars, and hilltop mansions with ocean views;

this man



I envy him.

For so many reasons.


blogagog said...

"I love tires."

No, you don't understand. He LOVES tires. LOOOOOOOVES them. It's a feeling a normal man who doesn't love tires simply cannot comprehend.

AFK, I've got a date with a 255 50 R14.

Fletch said...

If you two crazy kids can make it out to california, I'm pretty sure you can get married...

Anonymous said...

Just about everyone in my experience has a great enthusiasm for something (be it Chevy small-blocks, computer water-cooling rigs, tiny porcelain dishes, baseball caps, scrap-booking etc.) that would strike just about everyone else as odd. Esoteric knowledge/passion is one of humanity's greatest traits IMHO.