“Mum, where are my winter tires..?”
Suffering from the mission-impossible-never-ending-Sisyphus-like position of logistic manager around here, my brain snapped into full alert. The snow had been coming down in thick layers the past few days, with no regard to economic or social standing, democratically covering everything with its brand new infinite-shades-of-white coat. The roads were no exception; their by now hard packed, glazed surface having demobilized more vehicles than any ambitious arm truce.
Because the tire-owner had been abroad for half a year, he had graciously lent us his car. Provided we made the necessary change of tires once snow and ice decided to vacate the premises for a couple of months…
Searching my mind for a recollection of what had happened in the tire department about half a year ago, I found nothing. I desperately enticed neurotic neurons and synergetic synapses into coming to my rescue, but all I got was a thunderingly silent void. My memory was as empty as that of a crashed computer. Not a bit of wheels, not a byte of rubber anywhere.
With no idea whatsoever of what had befallen the tires or where they had been left to hibernate, the search began. The most logical place to start looking was in the carport shed where such things, along with a whole bunch of no such things, are stored. The only wheels there were some bike tires that even I realized wouldn’t do the trick, at least not a good one.
Family, friends and foes were now called upon, even a couple of random passersby were prompted, but still when subjected to the third degree, no one had a clue concerning the whereabouts of the by now infamous winter tires.
Taking matters in his own hands, the tire-less young boy now called the tire hotel where the family’s wheels usually vacation. The always sweet and service minded lady on the phone was all ears and GoodYears, but could not for the life of her find the tires on the guest list.
My son, normally of a very patient and good humored s(p)ort, looked at his mum. Hovering above me at 6.3 long and around the shoulders pretty broad feet, he now made me feel like a confused little mouse scampering around on the floor.
Before I bravely rose to the occasion. I told him to chill, indicating that I was on top of the situation, while I did my investigations. I started by making a new round of calls, now including not only the extended family, long lost friends and the remotest of acquaintances, but also the postwoman, the dentist, the chimney sweeper and a couple of others who in their kindness might have lent me a helping hand a few months back. This took, of course, half the morning, and yielded lots of interesting information on a wide range of subjects, but nothing, alas, on the missing tires.
Not willing to give up at the first bump in the road, I picked up the phone again. This time calling the Tire Hotel adjacent to the one we usually use, thinking that if our regular one had been full at the time, maybe the tired tires had found a Room in the Inn next door. It turned out that this particular establishment has branches all over town, and in my mind I saw my whole day slipping away. But the person on the phone had mercy on me and told me she would check them all. She just needed the license plate number.
I ran out in the -12 degrees cold and retrieved it. In my nighties wearing little, but swearing much.The lady checked it towards her data base, and found… no match.
By now I was actually beginning to enjoy myself; this was ridiculous. The tires could not have evaporated into thin air, they must be somewhere. Somewhere pretty logical, pretty obvious.
I suddenly remembered that our local little garage quite recently had started accommodating temporarily homeless tires. That would be it. I dialled their number. I don’t know if garage people are of a particularly friendly breed, have compulsory classes in bedside manners or if I have just been insanely lucky, but once I had explained my predicament, he started leafing through his file. Beginning with the first letter of my last name, and when having no luck with that, going through the whole lot, backwards and forwards. While doing this, he was kind enough to entertain me with stories of people who came in, wanting to have winter tires put on their already winter shod car.
Appreciating his efforts, both to locate the tires and to comfort my at this time tiny, but highly amused ego, I confessed to him that someone in my household (without mentioning names) had been there, done that too. However, at the end of our chat, I was high in spirits, but low on results.
Having exhausted all of my ideas, it suddenly dawned on me to look in the mary-poppins-bag-like storage room where garden furniture, basketball hoop, hammock, and an occasional couple of snow weary elks are squeezed in for the winter. Spotting no tires, I was just about to close the door when a hunch made me cast a last glance over my shoulder. And there, stacked in a corner, were four trying-to-look-inconspicuous summer tires.
No wonder no one had remembered the tire exchange; there had never been any! The tires were simply residing where the owner himself (who for some reason seemed a tad less tall now…) had last deposited them.
The tires on his car, now actually having been revealed as winter tires, were obviously no good as such go, as they had, according to him, made his car behave like an insanely intoxicated Bambi on ice.
Calling up our tire hotel again, I did not have to introduce myself; by now we were like family, me obviously being part of the eccentric branch. Slowly and carefully I explained about the summer tires being winter tires, and the winter tires literally having lost their grip. The guy on the phone tactfully refrained from voicing what must have been on the tip of his tongue; that someone else’s grip was a little bit on the loose side too.
Instead he listened to my inquiry about tires and gave me an offer on a new set. “Would you have sold them to your mother in law…?” I half-jokingly asked him, but immediately checked myself and said: “ Of course your answer depends on your relationship with her!” Which turned out to be quite good, so the deal was sealed, winter tires secured and everyone was Cont(in)ent(al).
When the car owner had just left the house to pick up his new tires, I called him and reminded him to take his winter tires in the shed with him. He went silent for a sec, and then said: “Mum, think again”. And I did, laughed, and hung up.
Exhausted, but happy that the tires had been found and I was off the hook, for now. Till something else goes missing. If anyone feels up to the task, I am willing to vacate my post any time and go live in a warm, sunny place where a tire is something a woman adorns her hair with.