At Ed’s Tire Store I was that guy. Just 15 minutes before closing I burst in the door raving about tires and clutching the mangled wheel.
A six man staff was standing around doing nothing. They saw me and an invisible pecking order was deployed. Three guys vanished. They were the top of the ladder and had things to do… such as avoiding work. The fourth guy on the totem pole examined the wheel and declared the rim “unusable”. The fifth shuffled around and found a tire that would fit the rim which had just been declared unusable. The two agreed the tire couldn’t be mounted on the flattened rim and they had no other rims that size. No alternative rims would match the spindle diameter. No suitable wheel tire sets existed. They didn’t have any hub that could be installed on the spindle to change tire size. Having concluded the situation was hopeless they looked at me expectantly. Perhaps I’d kindly go off on an ice flow and die?
There was a standoff. I heard the clock tick. I waited.
Finally last and lowest guy on the totem pole broke. He looked about nineteen years old and had that long suffering look of a nineteen year old doing a good job despite being surrounded by idiots twice his age. He offered to take the company’s truck and trailer to fetch my splitter.
The two peons objected because… well because they were lazy dickheads. The nineteen year old froze, keys in hand. The poor kid was stuck between his desire to do a good job and outranking employees who are paycheck cashing leeches. I’ll never get used to 2015. Using the tire company truck to drum up business for the tire company with a guy who needs a tire shouldn’t be controversial. Ideally they’d bill me a few bucks and make me smile while doing it and then lock in my business on the repair end. Say it with me people; capitalism is not rocket science.
Time to give some instructions in customer service. I got in close and personal with the two who’d made the objection and spoke in hushed impolite tones. After a few declarative sentences I’d made my point rather forcefully. I’m not going to say what words were used but Officer Friendly, sitting in his warm cruiser a few miles away, probably sensed a disturbance in the force. The two bits of dead weight turned three shades of pale. They’d gained a new understanding of what a bearded woodcutter might do when his equipment was in jeopardy and just how willing he was to do it right here, right now.
One of the two losers nodded at the kid, who bolted for the door, and then they vanished. The kid had a huge smile. He’d enjoyed the show. I helped him hitch the company trailer to their truck (not mine… do that and a lawyer would explode) and he followed me down the road. It was 5 minutes to closing time at Ed’s and everyone’s car was already warming up in the parking lot. Real crack team of hard workers at Ed’s.
On the road we found Mrs. Curmudgeon parked a quarter mile from the the police officer. My splitter squatted between them like a mechanical no-man’s land. Neither had greeted the other. I’d told the officer a small hatchback might show up. They’d both decided to stay in their warm cars. Braving the cold was for lunatics with flat tires.
I was embarrassed at all the hubub. The whole road was lit up. Four vehicles and a trailer, all with headlights and flashers. Of course the police cruiser was lit up like a disco ball. All this to rescue a 600 pound wood splitter? We we’re probably on somebody’s Facebook page.
The kid backed up the trailer with the experienced hand of a country boy. Excellent! The police officer got out and shivered in the cold. (Police uniforms are designed by desk jockeys.) Three of us together slipped the splitter onto the trailer in one quick motion. I was thankful for the help. I’ve tried to lift it myself and it’ll kill one man alone. I noticed the teen and the police officer had the same traits; polite, business like, restrained, helpful. Society isn’t over yet.
I said thanks to the police officer about ten times. Mrs. Curmudgeon, who’d never left her car, lit out for home, followed by the police officer, my hulking truckload of wood, and finally the tire store truck & trailer. Big night for a rural highway.
Soon my woodsplitter was locked in Ed’s service lot with a repair tag. It was ten minutes after closing and the place was deserted. I stuffed a $20 the teenager’s hand and said thanks. He looked worried. “How am I going to write that up on the repair tag?” He mumbled.
“Don’t. Buy a pizza and never mention it to the jackwagons who didn’t help you.” He beamed and cleared out. It was over. I felt the weight of a really rough week seeping into my bones. I stood there a bit trying to let stress fade. My splitter was safely behind chain link. Tomorrow would be another day.
Having bought time, I decided to use money and awesome to fix everything the right way.