Full Circle

January 31, 2010 at 2:29 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Funny how sometimes a person comes full-circle. You can think you’ve moved-on permanently in your life, only to end-up back where you started. In my own case, I now make less money than I did back in 1980. In those days, one of my money-saving habits was that I bought used tires for whatever jalopy I was driving at an old auto garage on the east side of Dayton, called “Astro Tire.”

Astro Tire was down the block from where my one of my older sisters & her husband lived. They had recently moved to the east side because their good jobs at McCall’s Dayton Press evaporated (until the late 1970’s a huge portion of the nation’s magazines were printed in Dayton). The east side was/is the poor-white side of town, while the west side was/is the poor black side of town. Anyway, my brother-in-law turned me on to many money saving tips needed by a struggling college student; one of which was buying good, used tires.

Since before Christmas, one of the back tires on Myrtle’s Honda had a slow leak. I got in the habit of putting air in it every couple days but could tell the tire was shot. It was worn-down to where there really was no more tread than if it had been painted on. That’s a dangerous thing in any driving season but particularly during the snowy/icy Ohio winter.

So a few days ago, I bit the bullet and called around to tire shops and mega-stores for prices. But nearly $100 for a tire is simply out-of-reach now that my credit cards are gone. The memory of those good times is fading but a decade ago I was well-off enough that I charged most of my monthly expenses, then paid off the credit card bill each month so I paid no interest to the bank (the credit card companies refer to customers who do that as “deadbeats. But don’t feel too sorry for them, they still get a couple percent from the merchant on every credit card purchase). In the new millennium, since I didn’t have the income to pay cash for medical care, eyeglasses, car repair, and other such luxuries, I charged them. And then always prayed that someday, by working hard or winning the lottery, I’d have enough money to pay-off the balances (I came close a couple times). Alas, it wasn’t to be. The cards are gone; replaced by threatening letters.

I was in despair at affording a tire. Then I remembered trusty Astro Tire. I tried to find them in the telephone listing, but to no avail. I knew they are still in business because once in awhile I pass the run-down old building while I’m running errands. I would have to go there. Leaving Myrtle at home to make business phone calls, I set-off to a place I’d abandoned 25 years ago, when I finally had a great job and could afford brand-spanking-new tires for my no-longer-jalopy cars.

I pulled into what is now called “Wayne Avenue Tire” (that explained why I couldn’t find them in the phone book). The name was the only noticeable thing that changed about the place since 1980. It was still greasy, dark, & dingy. But I was greeted by a friendly & wiry 20-something fellow who quoted me a price of $30 complete for an adequate tire. Since I was the only customer there at the time, he started on my car right away. It was a sunny, 20 degree day, so I forewent his offer to let me sit in my car while he jacked it up and changed the tire. Instead, although I didn’t want to annoy him, I talked to him. This is what he told me:

The name Astro Tire went about 5 years ago. The shop has been through 3 owners in the last 5 years. Two of those owners lost the business because they were heavily involved in drugs. The latest, and drug-free, owner is not the friendly, wiry 20-something. Mister friendly, wiry 20-something is named Ray. And Ray is grateful that the owner hired him to work at Wayne Avenue Tire because Ray used to do roofing, until the construction business collapsed recently.

Ray got me on my way after about 10 minutes, which is about an hour quicker than any new tire shop I’ve been in. And, you know, even after I get back on my feet financially I think I will probably keep buying used tires.

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