Some have questioned the former American Retreaders Association's change in name to its new International Tire and Rubber Association moniker, wondering if the ITRA has forsaken its retreading roots. In a conversation we had with a retreader during the group's recent World Tire Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Ky., he suggested that perhaps consideration should have been given to calling the organization the ``International Retreaders Association.''
That may have pleased some, but we doubt the association would want to be identified with the acronym IRA (as in ``Irish Republican Army'').
Arte Maren, who delivered the keynote address and presented several workshops at the ITRA's World Tire Conference, continually harped on ``quality'' and the lack thereof in businesses-as well as in people's lives.
At times sounding a little like comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Mr. Maren observed that a person taking a driving test can fail three or four things-any one of which could kill someone-but still pass the test!
We've all heard the explanation, ``It's just one of those things,'' he continued. That's what the announcers said when, for example, during a World Series baseball game in the U.S. involving the Toronto Blue Jays the Canadian flag was carried onto the field upside down. ``Can anyone tell me what the those is?'' he asked.
``Quality is a natural phenomenon'' toward which most humans are bent, Mr. Maren said, except maybe for the following:
Did you hear about the ATM bandit in Louisville, Ky.? Attempting to rip off an automated teller machine outside a bank, the robber hitched a chain from the ATM to his car's back bumper. When he put 'er in drive, the machine didn't budge but his bumper did. Panicked, he fled, leaving the bumper-and its license plate-behind. A no-brainer for the cops.
In Arizona, ``Guns for Hire'' stages realistic gunfights for Western movies. The group got a call from a woman who wanted to have her husband rubbed out. She's now doing time, instead of making it.
Did you ever notice, Mr. Maren inquired, that attorneys ask the most inane questions in courtrooms? This came from an actual case: ``Did the defendant threaten that if you testify, he'll kill you?''
``And did he kill you?''
Then there was the knucklehead who was about to rob a convenience store. He pulled out a plastic garbage bag to use for a mask, but oh-oh. . . he'd forgotten to cut holes in his mask (gasp).
Hi-ho, Silver, and away.
The war's over
Anyone keeping score? Chevy has claimed victory in the cupholder battle.
General Manager John Middlebrook said Chevrolet's new Venture minivan has 17 of them, adding: ``But if any of our competitors are listening, I suggest we call a truce and get on with our lives.''
If you ever want to get him going, just ask Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), about ``alligators.''
A staunch defender of retreaded tires, he enjoys debunking the misconception that all shreds of rubber along highways are from poorly constructed retreads.
Amused attendees at the ITRA conference actually got to see a real live ``tiregator'' (above) in captivity.
Watch out-it looks like it bites.