My husband gave me a little job to do while he’s out of town. He handed me a piece of paper with some numbers on it and asked me to buy new tires for his car. Four of them. Fortunately, this is not the first time I’ve been sent to buy something I know nothing about.
When I was in high school, my mother sent me to a sporting goods store to buy my older brother a cup for football. My younger brother heard us talking and said he needed one, too. I didn’t ask why one needed to be medium and one needed to be large. And I didn’t understand the difference between an athletic supporter and a cup until I got to the store and learned the latter is not something to drink out of. On stormy nights I still have flashbacks of the clerk’s explanation. I think he must have gone a year or two to medical school.
Ever since that harrowing experience, I’ve insisted on full disclosure before I agree to go shopping for someone else to buy something I know nothing about. I make them write down exactly what they want. Size, color, inseam, diameter, tensile strength, thread count, octane content, length, height, width, square inches, decaf or regular, with or without deodorant and for crying out loud make it legible. The model number is good, too. I’ll take the SKU number if you’ve got it.
As is turns out, this is an especially good rule when it comes to tires because—and I’m not trying to be funny here—they all look alike. Round. Black. Rubbery. So I was a little annoyed when I discovered my husband ignored my policy.
I handed the impatient clerk the paper with the information my husband wrote down. He clicked on his computer for a minute, swung the screen around to face me and began speaking in sales-ese. He droned on and on about the virtues of the models he recommended—any one of which, he asserted, would be an exceptional choice. He bragged about tread depth and treadwear expectancy. With one brand we’d save fuel because new technology resulted in a tire that rolled more easily. Really? It’s round. It’s a tire. What else would it do but roll?
He claimed another tire offered exceptional traction on icy and slick roads. Oh? I may not know much about buying tires, but I know enough to not expect exceptional traction when driving on ice.
He wrapped up his pitch by showing me samples, spinning each in a full 360 for my inspection and encouraging me to touch the tread. Then he looked at me expectantly, waiting for my decision.
Buying a cup for my brothers so they could play football without risking their future procreative privileges was a breeze compared to shopping for tires. I tried to choose. I really did. But my head was spinning like a flat tire on an icy road. I gave up, came home and put my feet up.
Sorry, Honey. You’re going to have to buy your own tires. But if you ever decide to go out for football, I’m your girl.