With all the bludgeoning Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. has endured over the recall of millions of Firestone light truck tires, lawsuits and accompanying bad publicity, some have wondered whether it would be prudent to retire the storied Firestone brand. The same debate has swirled around a certain Ford Motor Co. sport-utility vehicle.
John K. Teahen Jr., a columnist for Automotive News, recently suggested that perhaps with all the negative news surrounding the Explorer, the auto maker might want to ditch the name. But a letter-to-the-editor writer called that a ``ludicrous'' idea, noting ``Ford is doing a splendid job of trashing the Firestone name with the recall of Firestone tires and ending their business relationship.''
The letter's author said ``even if the Explorer has faults, Ford has done a good job of making it public that the tire situation is Firestone's fault.'' He added that ``you don't change the name of a product that is selling well; you do it in a lull.''
OK...at that point we were pretty sure from the sounds of it that he's obviously pro-Ford. But his letter ends with a real left-field suggestion: ``As for a new name for the Explorer, why not Executioner?''
Not blessed with the gift of always knowing the proper thing to do in any possible situation?
Then let us turn to that ``bible'' of proper etiquette, the newsletter of the Northwest Tire Dealers Association, for guidance and inspiration. Tire Talk recently published what it called ``Martha Stewart's Tips for Rednecks''-author unknown, of course. Under the ``general advice'' heading it offered the following:
* Never take a beer to a job interview.
* Always identify people in your yard before shooting at them.
* It's considered tacky to take a cooler to church.
* If you have to vacuum the bed, it's time to change the sheets.
* Even if you're certain that you are included in the will, it is still rude to drive a U-Haul to the funeral home.
Now that you're set straight on those circumstances, consider these social situations you may encounter while entertaining in your home and remember:
* When decanting wine from the box, make sure that you tilt the paper cup and pour slowly so as not to ``bruise'' the fruit of the vine.
* If drinking directly from the bottle, always hold it with your hands.
We'd like to offer a few tire-specific suggestions ``Martha'' didn't cover:
* Don't offer a compliment on how young a customer's ``grandfather'' or ``grandmother''-waiting out in the car-looks, lest you discover it's actually the customer's spouse.
* When selling your dealership's favorite tire brand, be specific about its benefits-don't just say: ``Well, ya know...all tires are round and black and the only difference is the tread pattern they leave on road kill.''
* As the customer watches you pull his or her vehicle into a service bay, don't shout ``Hi-ho Silver,'' punch the gas pedal and lay down a patch of rubber. Always wait until they've left the premises.
* And please don't tout your store's safety record with a big sign proclaiming: ``We haven't had a car fall off a lift in (-) days.''
This `n that
Call it what it is-The recent rash of shark attacks off the coast of Florida also has created a kind of feeding frenzy among the media.
National Public Radio interviewed a gent identified as an international shark expert (not a card shark). While the number of people getting nipped seems to be unusually high, he said that, in actuality, it has been an average year for what he described as ``negative encounters between swimmers and sharks.''
Hmm...negative encounters. You mean ``shark attacks?'' the interviewer asked. ``Uh, yes,'' he replied, with a tone of sheepishness in his voice.
That's sort of like calling a flat tire the result of a ``negative experience'' between a foreign object and a tire. Ah, the joys of double-speak.
Running flat-out-Here's another incident in the annals of ``dumb crook'' stories, though ``hapless sap'' is probably a better description of the guy.
Cops in Gainesville, Fla., got lucky when they nabbed a 32-year-old robbery suspect who reportedly grabbed cash from a convenience store register, hopped in his truck and drove away. Unfortunately, during his getaway he struck another vehicle, damaging one of his tires. So about three miles away the unarmed thug stopped to change the flat. That's when he was spotted by officers and apprehended, according to a WJLA-TV report.
He was charged with felony counts of hit and run and grand larceny-and remains an example of why widespread use of run-flat tires could possibly lead to more getaways and fewer crooks being arrested.
Glub glub-A report on Kent State University's WKSU-FM radio station about a replacement for the school's very successful former head basketball coach, Gary Waters, noted that ``under Waters' guidance....'' Or maybe was it underwaters guidance.
Uh, sorry Gigi-France's late, great entertainer Maurice Chevalier once observed: ``Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim he would not have chosen a suit by it.'' (The same technique might work for selling tires-just keep those showroom lights dim.)
So true to life, dahling-Having problems getting staffers to work-or a meeting-on time?
Franklin P. Jones felt your pain when he observed: ``The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it.''
Meanwhile, that famous quipster ``Unknown'' once said: ``The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.'' (Beats the heck out of trying to make a profit selling tires for 10 bucks apiece.)
And we especially like this sentiment: ``A hangover is the wrath of grapes.''
Health update-The headline on HealthScoutNews was pretty catchy: ``Blame sire for kid's spare tire.''
Basically, it pointed out that a variation of a gene inherited only from a father may raise a child's risk of early-onset obesity, according to French and American researchers writing in the Aug. 13 issue of the journal Nature Genetics.
So in other word's, it's no longer ``your father's Oldsmobile'' that a kid can get the keys to-only dad's flabby midriff bulge.
It's a jungle out there
Thinking of doing your own TV commercials for your dealership? Some may find it cheaper than paying big bucks for more famous, recognizable on-air talent. But beware, such a move can have pitfalls.
Consider the case of car dealer Fred Ricart, of Columbus, Ohio-based Ricart Automotive Group, who decided to parody TV's crocodile hunter, Australian outdoorsman Steve Irwin. He stars in the Discovery Channel's ``The Crocodile Hunter'' show. Fearless Fred became ``The Car Deal Hunter'' for a couple of commercials.
The Columbus Dispatch described Mr. Ricart's sidekick for his first commercial as an unresponsive alligator. So Fred nudged it with the mahogany headstock of a $2,000 guitar and the gator promptly snapped off the stock. Then at the end of the second commercial a python appears to strangle the car dealer, who said ``it took two guys to get it off me.''
Look at the bright side, Fred...at least it wasn't a customer trying to throttle you.