Thursday, August 21, 2014

conquering the last frontier

The trouble of staying independent is that you have to constantly over come your fears one way or another. Be it the bank account reconciliation, understanding an investment portfolio or getting new tyres for your car. Now the real trouble begins when you are independent and lazy. I have been postponing the replacement of my car tyres for the last couple of months. Everything time something or the other came up and I figured those were more important. So then, on the first morning after my return from a fabulous holiday in Singapore, I am greeted with a flat tyre of the front left wheel. Apparently it had sprung a leak earlier and while I was happily carousing in Singapore, it puffed out its last breath of air. Tubeless tyres and our roads are not a happy marriage I suppose.

So after cursing myself, I sheepishly ask dad for his car keys since there was no time to haul the dead tyre to the repair shop and anyhow the repair man doesn’t start his day that early in the morning. On my way back from work, I decide to visit the nearest tyre shop and find out about replacement options. My car was custom fitted with Michelin XM1+ tyres which at that time seemed like a very good idea. The car dealer convinced me about its superlative qualities and I buckled in for the trade up. To be honest, it wasn’t a bad investment at all. It saw me through the tumultuous years of breaking relationships, moving home, invading sadness, changing jobs and the innumerable doctor’s visits for the family. It has kept all my secrets and never let me down. Never a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere. No engine trouble, ever. Other than a few rough scratches and small dents, it still purrs as quietly as it did the day I got it home. Not that I have taken good care of it. Over the years I have forgotten to get service done on many occasions. Postponing at times, out of the dread of inconvenience of having to pencil in one more thing in my chaotic life. But it has got me through most of my life’s troubles.

So here I was, a bit daunted at the sight of the service station. The men, both the mechanics and the owners of other cars getting serviced, give me a dismissive look and ignore me completely. I finally work up the courage to speak and say that I am here to buy new tyres for my car. They point to a spot surreptitiously  behind the station to a flight of stairs that leads to their office. I manage to climb up the dark staircase and enter a dimly lit room stacked to the ceiling with tyres and filled with the smell of new rubber. On one corner there is a table with a laptop and no one seemed to be around. I kept standing ready to run at the first sign of trouble. My CSI-fed mind working overtime!

Finally a short puny man appears from nowhere. He doesn't smile and just stares and I tell him that I am looking to buy new tyres for my car. He asks about the size and I am stumped. I do not have the answer. However, I tell him the make and model and told him to suggest options. Here is where it gets interesting. He rattles off the details and prices and looks at me with a disrespectful grin. What he did not know is that I have done my research on the internet. Apparently, people are buying car tyres online! My father would be mortified. But here I was negotiating hard with him on the price, once I had agreed to an option. This surprises the man. He gets defensive and started saying why the price that he is quoting is more than the ones being offered online. So I tell him that is it fine I will buy them online – I am in no hurry and I turn to walk away. He calls me back and offers a price that I wasn’t expecting. So round one to me. We fix up a time for fitting the tyres and I leave. Of course, this doesn’t impress my dad who is convinced that for the discounted price he will give me used tyres. But then, we will just have to see about that.

No comments: