Or, where not to shop for tires or tire repair…

Yesterday afternoon, realizing that the left rear tire on my car looked flatter than normal, I drove to the tire company where I had bought the tire a year or so ago, and that had recently checked all the tires at the time I’d had the oil changed.

I walked up to the counter and waited, and waited, and waited, while the lady behind the counter talked on the telephone discussing her Christmas turkey order.  You know, what size turkey, how many giblets and extras needed for stuffing and gravy, all those important tire business decisions.

After the phone had rung several other times, she told the turkey-provider she would ring them back, mouthed to me “be with you in a minute,” and took another call.  Transferring that one to a mechanic, she answered another line – another personal call for her.  She told that person she’d call them back.

Finally she asked if she could help me.  I explained that I needed the tires checked again, that one seemed to be going flat.  She said I would have to drive the car around to the garage and somebody back there could check the air pressure for me.

Then she turned away to pick up the phone again, I guess to re-check on her Christmas turkey order.

So, I drove the car around to the garage, where all the roll-up doors were closed and no-one was visible.  What now, I wondered.  Should I bang on one of the doors?

Just then a pick-up truck with their logo drove up, the driver parked, rolled open one of the big doors and went in.  Through the door I saw the lady from the front counter speak to him, then he came over to my car with an air gauge in his hand and asked what my problem was.

Once again I explained about the tire.   He glanced at it, said, yep, looks flat, you’ll have to go back around to the front and fill out a work order.  I asked if he was going to check the other tires and he said, you’ll have to fill out the work order first.

I looked at his expression, considered his obvious unhappiness that I was there and just said, no thanks, I believe I’ll take it somewhere else.  He shrugged like that was fine with him so that’s what I did.

I drove down the street to Cardinal Tire, parked, went in, and explained about the tire to the helpful and friendly gentleman behind the counter.  He took my keys and got a young fellow to drive the car around to their garage, where they checked all the tires, added air as needed and repaired the flat tire.  (It had a screw in it, probably from one of the construction areas out here where I live.)

The waiting room was pleasant.  I was there maybe thirty minutes, listening to the news on a big-screen TV while I read a Reader’s Digest from their magazine selection.

Then the young man drove the car back around to my parking spot, came in and explained to me what he’d found and what he’d done, said all my tires were fine now, all with 35 lbs. of air pressure in them, and returned my car keys with a cheerful smile.  And I paid the small repair bill with a smile, too.

The difference in the two places of business was dramatic.  The first one was unfriendly, unhelpful, and unprofessional.  The second was friendly, helpful, and professional.

If you want to know the name of the unhelpful tire place, I’ll tell you privately. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they were all just having a particularly stressful, bad day.

But I am quite happy to tell you the name of the helpful place, Cardinal Tire on Bentree Lane in Florence.  I hope they all have a very Merry Christmas and excellent New Year.