Growing up in the early '90s, I would have to say I was blessed. I mean, sure, my biggest enemies in middle school and high school were Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Justin Timberlake. But I was fortunate enough to live in a number of different social environments. Not only that, I was fortunate enough to grow up before texting (that started in high school, mostly) and before Google really took off.
If you wanted to get to know someone, you would actually have to walk up to them and introduce yourself. Not only that, but all information you wanted had to be gained through verbal interaction. Similarly, if there was something you needed or wanted that was sold, you first needed to find out where to get it, then had to physically go pick it up. And this is another place where the skills of interaction were put to use. I found that I have the amazing ability to either talk a salesman down in price or get other stuff thrown in.
I know what you're thinking. “It's just because you're really good looking, Nate. Duh!” Well, no. It's mostly due to my willingness to step up and actually speak to someone. Sadly, that's a skill lost among a great deal of today's up and coming generation.
Another sad casualty of this new day and age of “Double Click, Get it Now, Two Day Free Shipping” is customer service. Who even cares anymore? There's barely a face-to-face.
Unless, of course, what you have to speak to someone about is somewhere between 4000 and 7500 pounds.
One day, while driving Chelsea's college Ford Taurus through Northern California for a get away, we could no longer ignore the quickly deflating tire on the driver's side. So, I warily pulled into an America's Tire and asked them if they could fix the flat. The sign looked similar to Discount Tire (the store my family used since moving back to the San Diego area) so I felt it was worth a shot. The tall bald man behind the counter said, “Sure,” and away with my car he went. I wasn't particularly worried about how much the repair was going to cost because there was no way in my mind it would have been more than a whole new tire. Eighty bucks last time I got a set.
Then the fateful time came when I was called back to the register by the tall bald man with a slight cheery ring in his voice. “Nate, your car's done!” he said as he held out the keys. I walked up to him, retrieved my keys and waited. “What's the damage?” I braced. “You're all set,” he launched back in a satisfied tone. After an uninteresting back and forth he let me know that they didn't charge for fixing flats.
He led Chelsea and I to our car, where we quickly hopped in and drove away before this rookie realized his mistake.
Long story short, the tall bald man was the manager. He knew what he was doing and this was normal practice for America's Tire and Discount Tire (which, it turns out, are actually the same company). Thus started the relationship with MY tire company. It's where I point friends when they ask me where to go. I like the fact that they care about their customers and treat them all with care. I remember being pleasantly surprised when I went with my mom to get her car new tires. I stood off to the side like some other customer and enjoyed watching them treat her the same as my 6'5″ mountain of a father who normally does the wheel-shopping. They didn't pull any mechanic sleazeball tricks to make a buck just because she was a woman. They treated her well and honestly. That's why I ALWAYS go to Discount Tire.
I've shared the fact that Chelsea and I have upgraded our POVs (personally owned vehicles) and they've become much more critical in our adventures and general travels. Most important (at least in my opinion) is my truck. I've slowly been building it up and eventually, it will be my perfect off-road Bear. Because SO much of my time and effort is being put into this vehicle, it's understandable that the occasional small issue might stress me out a lot.
We switched from the stock tires to BF Goodrich All Terrain tires (35X12.5 18) when traveling in our Road Trip Revival series. Dusty from Sexton Off-Road did an outstanding job helping us out and teaching us about improving our suspension. Now these tires are miles above stock tires and with a finite budget, it's very important to me to take care of them.
A few weeks ago I noticed my pressure sensor came on. I found, after driving for a few days, my rear right wheel was losing a significant amount of air. I decided to take it to the one place I trust with my tires. Fortunately, I also found out one of my coworker's brothers, Randy, happened to work at the Discount Tire locations in our area. So I paid him a visit.
We found a pesky nail to be the source of the problem, and it was a simple fix.
Pull the nail, drill the hole and plug it from the inside with their “proprietary” plug. Less than 40 minutes later I was back out on the road. One of the best things about this fix is that it can solve the problem and allow you the full life of the tire, as long as you have enough tread left.
I didn't need Google to find the fix. Just a good and trustworthy tire store. One that hasn't lost the art of customer service and remembers that the handshake is more than a misunderstood formality. I shook Randy's hand and was on my way.
Next up? New wheels.