A Day at the Tire Shop: Cure for Frayed Nerves?

Renae Brabham

I always feel a pang of sympathy for the people (mostly women, questionably) lined up on the bench outside Gerald's Tires. I think, what a terrible way to spend your day. 


Oh, Karma, when am I going to learn? As I was walking out of house last week, I noticed a flat tire on the truck. Mind you, there's no such thing as "just a flat" on the this truck. The tires on the big truck are costly. Visions of a month's worth of ramen noodle dinners floated through my head. 
Plus, memories of my last tire escapade came flooding back. One morning years ago, I thought my front tire on the mommy wagon looked a little low. I pulled into a gas station and fed the air pump machine. How hard could it be? I figured you filled them until they were round and didn't have a crease on the ground. Then I drove to work and promptly offered to take care of a large package that needed delivering, courtesy of my newly shipshape wagon. 
When I pulled out onto the highway, I thought I had been bombed. Two tires exploded and left me sitting on the road. Someone from work came and took the important delivery off my hands, and I was towed to a gas station for two new tires. Luckily, the other tires didn't detonate on the way.
Nope, I won't be fixing this big boy. I bought a can of fix-a-flat and emptied it into the tire. But it didn't inflate enough to get it to a tire shop. I flagged down a community maintenance worker on a golf cart.  He sent over another guy with an air tank to pump it enough to get to shop.  
I pulled into Gerald's and walked up to the counter. They greeted me much like the cheesy commercials.  I wasn't so cheerful—too busy thinking about the big bucks I was going to have to shell out and having to cut back on chocolate consumption to pay for it.
The counter clerk told me that it would take about an hour or a little more. Well, it wasn't like I could go anywhere. I had a flat tire.
So, I plopped into a chair. I couldn't, after all, sit on the bench outside—I was in no mood for the pity of passersbys. 
I spied a magazine rack and went and scarfed up my faves. Charleston magazine, Garden & Gun, and Town & Country. That should do me. 
I leafed through the magazines and felt my shoulders falling down a bit and just kind of settled in. I slid my feet out of my shoes and rested them on top, took a few swigs of water and started reading. I'd started with Charleston, surprised to find one that I didn't remember the cover. I was halfway through when I saw Chef Brett McKee on a full-page spread for Oak Steakhouse. Well, when did he go back to the Oak? Then came an article on favorite ice cream flavors of Charleston's chefs. Mike Lata, you sure are looking good. I pulled the magazine up to my face to inspect closer. Dang, I think he's had work done.
Then it dawned on me. I flipped the magazine back to the cover. Spring 2009!  I laughed out loud. About 15 minutes into the wait, a lady walked in with an overnight bag. They told her that the work will take quite a little while. She smiled, undaunted, and replied, "That's fine."  She sat on the outside bench and started pulling out yarn and needles, a bottle of water, and commenced to work on her craft.
I looked around the shop. No one seemed harried, checked their watches, or paced impatiently.
Suddenly, I had memories of the men that used to sit on benches outside the gas stations, burning barrels, and shade trees. They may be on to something. 
After three magazines, one bottle of water, a half hour of Food Network, and five M&M's out of the vending machine for a quarter.... they called my name.
"Ma'am we patched your tire, there's no charge."  
No charge.
I thanked him, sincerely grateful and feeling better than I did after morning coffee. Who knew? 
By the way, ladies. I did figure out why all of the women sat outside. Twp hours in a tire shop does not a sweet cologne make.