Never let it be said that Jim Berlin, CEO of Akron-based Tire Centers Inc., doesn't have a sense of humor. Actually, he's kind of had it beaten into him by John Gamauf, vice president of consumer tire sales for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. Every year these two highly competitive gents wager on the Chicago Bulls/New York Knicks B-ball playoff series. Every year the bet gets a little more...ahem...quirkier.
This time around, according to dyed-in-the-wool Bulls fan Gamauf, ``if Jim's Knicks would win the series, then he'd buy me a Knicks outfit to wear for one whole day. And if the Bulls would win, then I'd buy a complete Bulls outfit for him to wear.''
As you sports fans know, Michael Jordan's Bulls knocked out the Knicks and, as they say, the rest is history.
So sly Mr. Gamauf waited for a ``special'' day to call in his marker: while Mr. Berlin and other tire dealers from around the U.S. were on a BFS-sponsored junket to Greece.
There, wearing the outfit that included an autograph Dennis Rodman-yeah, the guy with the rainbow hair-tie, good-natured Mr. Berlin even agreed to ride a donkey in public. Fellow dealers guffawed. Photogs snapped pictures. And those poor Greeks saw a perfect depiction of the term ``Ugly American.''
Wonder what next year will bring. Knowing John Gamauf, uh, Jim, we wouldn't bet the farm. It's a safe bet Mr. Berlin won't be wearing his Bulls get-up at BFS' annual dealer meeting, Nov. 5-6, in Las Vegas during the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) shows-though in that town, who'd notice?
A while back that same Las Vegas-magnet for gamblers and trade association conventions like the huge AAIW shows-ran afoul of the feds. But not for what you might think.
Laser light shows, one of the latest rages in Sin City, dance their way across the skies around many of the casinos. Problem is, sometimes the lasers-replacing the old searchlight method of advertising-have temporarily blinded pilots navigating their way into and around the desert destination.
Late last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates laser technology, ordered a halt to all laser light shows within 20 miles of any of the three airports serving Vegas. A Wall Street Journal article said the FDA could extend its moratorium to other locales or nationwide, if deemed necessary.
We hear some blinded pilots have even reported seeing a heavenly vision of a slim, jump-suited Elvis.
You might say Dave Sinclair gave old ``Joe Camel'' a sucker punch to the lungs.
The owner of a Ford dealership in St. Louis may be the first in the country to prohibit smoking. Mr. Sinclair posted signs in his service department stating: ``To all suicidal employees: In an attempt to save your lives, I'm going to end all smoking on the premises. You'll have to go across the street to Kmart in order to kill yourselves. Affectionately, The Owner. P.S.-However, if anyone wants to buy a car and light up a cigar, they can be my guest.''
What you won't hear the presidential candidates say:
Bob Dole, who has a penchant for constantly speaking of himself in the third person: ``Bob Dole's just like any other man-Bob Dole puts his tires on one wheel at a time.''
Bill Clinton: ``I wish Sen. Dole would stop referring to my programs as costly `spare tires.' I've tried to cut down on my french fry intake, and when I reach that `bridge to the 21st century,' I hope it'll be able to support my weight.''
Ross Perot: ``Go ahead, kick my tires.''
Tri-R Recycling System's guard dogs were just doing their job Sept. 22 by keeping out all would-be trespassers-including the firefighters who were attempting to respond to a nighttime blaze at the Denver paper recycling plant.
Denver firefighters couldn't get any closer than outside the plant's gates. Employees eventually showed up to restrain the dogs; luckily, the fire only destroyed about 25 tons of baled paper, worth about $1,000.
Maybe a nice fire hose doggie ``bath'' would have done the trick.
Lest anyone accuse us of never bringing any culture into this column, we offer the following poetry (we use that term very loosely), courtesy of the Ontario Tire Dealers Association's newsletter:
We don't sell televisions, hi-fi's or nails. We don't sell refrigerators, blue cheese or pails.
We don't sell fig newtons, work clothes or toys. We just sell tires, that's enough for us boys. (Sorry ladies, that's what it says.)
We don't know how anyone can be so smart, as to know the answer to every modern art. (?)
When you need a doctor, to a doctor you go. You don't see a dentist to mend a broken toe.
So if you're worried about your tires, they're wearing kinda thin, See your independent tire dealer-that's the business they are in.
The author shall remain nameless-for a very good reason. Dealers: Try running that in your newspaper ads!