30 Dec My Almost Tire Disaster

Last week, I found a split in the sidewall of one of my camper van tires, which are hardly 6 months old. When I took my van to the tire shop, the manager said, “Those are the wrong tires for this vehicle.” I said, “You sold me these tires!” He said, “We sold you the wrong ones.” I said, “You mean I’ve driven over 10,000 miles across the country on the wrong tires?” He said, “Yeah. You need tires with a commercial rating. These are passenger tires.”

Should I have gotten angry? indignant? Should I have been shocked?

Mostly, I was amazed that I had driven through 40 states — on my From Animal House to Our House tour — without incident. Not even a flat tire! I was boasting after I got home. My new tires are splitting because my vehicle is too big for them. It’s a cargo van. Never mind that I’m not using it to carry cargo.

So, I’m getting new tires. The shop is charging me only for the tread I’ve used on the now-defective tires. Yes, I could have raised a fuss and demanded that they charge me nothing since their incompetence put me at risk. But, since nothing happened to me on the road and everything will be put right, why should I? My ex-wife used to get a lot of freebies because she was willing to yell at people and cause a terrible scene. At first, I admired her for this because it seemed she was standing up for her consumer rights. She got us free dry cleaning, free meals, even free car repair because of the scenes she was willing to make.

Once, I tried making a scene too, when I attempted to return an audio part without a receipt. I really had no right to make a scene because I had opened the packaged already. And, as I said, I had no receipt. But I tried it anyway. And, as a result of raising my voice and demanding my consumer “right” to make the return, I felt like an ass. Which I was. You’ve got to put yourself in a dark place to get away with that kind of display. You have to be shameless. But I was raised to take my share of shame and, above all, to treat people with respect. Kind reasoning, and firm but diplomatic discussion have always served me well. Did I want to be the kind of person who got his way only by bullying others?

My answer to that question explains, in part, why I’m no longer married to the woman who would make scenes easily — and frequently. ¬†As for the tire store manager, I am grateful that he did the right thing, calling out the mistake and offering a correction. He didn’t apologize exactly. But I don’t want an apology. What’s the point? I look at it this way: each of us has only so much good will to draw upon. I don’t want to spend mine exacting an apology for something that’s already being made right. I’ve got better things to do with my time and energy, like drive the camper van to fun places with my true love Jill and our crazy dogs.