You say the ``spark'' just isn't there anymore. That if you have to convince one more customer to buy one more of those round, black ``donuts'' you'll scream. Is that what's botherin' you, bunky?
Well then you can probably take solace in the following ``Top 10'' reasons why ``You know you've been in the tire business too long.''
Doing his best David Letterman impersonation, John Gamauf, vice president of consumer tire sales for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., offered these to dealers gathered in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for the tire maker's recent introduction of its ultra-high performance Firehawk SZ50 tire:
10. Your collection of tire company baseball caps and jackets overflow the closet.
9. You think an X-rated movie is a training video for the latest in performance tire service.
8. You still refer to Akron as the ``Rubber Capital of the World.''
7. You remember who the ``Big 5'' rubber companies were.
6. You turn out the lights, put your arm around your spouse-and talk about the latest tire technology.
5. You gloat because you knew that white walls were a fad that wouldn't last.
4. You blame your lessening sex drive on radial force variation.
3. The Feds accuse you of price fixing when your prices and profits are the lowest they've been in 10 years.
2. The phrase, ``Well, we'll make up for it in volume,'' starts to make sense.
And the #1 reason: Your collection of tire industry trade publications is larger than your collections of Playboy and Penthouse magazines.
In a similar vein. . . we chuckled after fielding a call from a gentleman in Arizona doing some research on tire company acquisitions.
Consultant Russell W. Hetz cheerily described himself as ``a broken-down old tire industry analyst exhumed to do one more project.'' His fax letterhead, though, seemed right on the money. It declared that ``5% of the people make it happen; 15% watch what happens-and still don't do anything; 80% don't even know what's happening.'' Enough said.
It was like something right out of that new Hollywood hit movie, Twister, minus the flying cows.
When a tornado ripped through Kentucky recently, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported residents of a neighborhood known as Pioneer Village were caught off guard. Gene Garrett went outside moments before it hit to collect a garbage can that had blown away. You know how guys are. His wife, Darlene, called for him to come in and take shelter.
But before he could, she said, ``He was laying on the ground, holding onto the tire (of the car in their driveway) for dear life.'' (No brand or size mentioned.)
Luckily, he suffered only minor cuts, scrapes, and was no worse for treadwear.
Expect a new J.D. Power and Associates survey on which tire brand is more stable in a twister.
Justice is blind
And sometimes, it seems, deaf and pretty dumb, too.
Raphael Diaz Rodriguez, who calls North Hollywood, Calif., home, faces a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of $20,000 for committing ``cruelty to animals.''
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)-which regularly points out the often bizarre inequities of illogical laws and regulations-noted in a recent newsletter that ol' Raphael had strangled the pet rabbit of his girlfriend.
But the penalty, should Mr. Nice Guy decide to beat and choke his girlfriend, is punishable by a year in jail and only a $1,000 fine.
Speaking of cruelty, there was nothing at all humorous in the Reuters news story about mechanic Lotfi Sayyed, 29, in Cairo, Egypt. The official al-Akhbar Egyptian newspaper reported that, to punish his 10-year-old apprentice ``for stupidity,'' Mr. Sayyed stuck a tire pump in the boy's anus and filled him up with air until the lad's intestines burst.
The paper said police arrested the mechanic after the boy was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
May we make a suggestion for a fitting punishment for this guy? Hint: It does involve a tire pump.
Remember that old running gag where secret agent Maxwell Smart, aka actor Don Adams, would take off his footwear to make a call from his ``shoe phone?''
Seems that Walt Weller, vice president of commercial tire sales for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., finds that an ideal way to keep in touch with his commercial dealers while out on the road.
The dapperly dressed executive, alias ``Agent R250,'' is shown above placing a call from his shoe during the tire maker's ``Bizcon 1'' commercial dealer conference held last March in San Antonio, Texas.
Uh, Walt. . .if you continue to forsake phone booths, you might want to consider stocking up on Dr. Scholl's ``Odoreaters.''
While working on a story recently for the annual special report in TIRE BUSINESS on commercial tire dealerships, we had a heck of a time finding a phone number/contact person for Ryder System Inc., the Miami-based firm that, among many things, leases trucks as well as rents those ubiquitous yellow ``Ryder road-ready'' vehicles.
After several fruitless tries, we reached a Ryder national customer service number, where a young lady gave us what she said was the phone number for the firm's corporate office.
So we called it, only to hear-``You've reached the hottest phone line in the country, where horney girls are waiting to take your call.''
Some new Ryder promotion, we wondered?
Or was the company perhaps branching out into other endeavors?
Naw. . . . It seems that the Ryder employee mistakenly gave us the wrong telephone number, though it is very similar to the real corporate number.