It is not supposed to snow more than 1 inch on Halloween. That is the rule. It is forbidden. Creepy rain? Yes, that is permissible, but not plowable amounts of snow. I thought about my poor tires.
There are two things in life that can completely crush one’s spirits: A sneaky snowstorm and unfaithful tires. I suffered both these hateful events this week.
It happened when I was raking a few leaves that had drifted over the road from my neighbor’s yard the other day. The prevailing winds, of course, favor his yard; the only thing that blows onto his property is prosperity.
I happened to notice two things: The sky looked ominously gray, and the tires on my car looked like they had survived the Dust Bowl of 1937.
I picked up the last of the leaves like a crime scene investigator, carefully, slowly. I held a few up to the light and tested their transparency. I wish I had had those bright yellow plastic evidence markers that CSI folk use to mark spent bullet casings. I could just see myself putting one on each of my neighbor’s leaves.
“And the oak leaf trail leads to your yard, Mr. Neighbor. Where were you when these leaves fell to the ground?”
I also noticed that 80 percent of the leaves on the trees were still vibrantly green and still attached to their 50-foot-tall hosts. Billions of leaves flexed their spiny backs before the growing wind and were ready to launch at any moment. The sky morphed into menacing, Dorothy-and-Toto scud clouds, and I hurried inside.
In the living room, television weather forecasters had gone totally apocalyptic –– the horror, the horror! –– because a surprise snowstorm was whirling up the coast and was going to drop enough snow to create a second Antarctica. This would be remembered as the Great Halloween Storm of ’11. It will also be listed as one of the most insidious weather events to hit us in decades.
It is not supposed to snow more than 1 inch on Halloween. That is the rule. It is forbidden. Creepy rain? Yes, that is permissible, but not plowable amounts of snow.
I thought about my poor tires. They would provide as much traction as four eels on ice. I spent the next hour researching tire prices and models. Then I did the due diligence of calling for details of special tire promotions.
Some places would provide free mounting or free wheel alignment or free flat repair. But most had hidden costs that ballooned up and floated the final bill into the stratosphere.
One tire store wanted $3.95 per wheel for wheel balancing, $2.95 per wheel for valve stems, $25 for installation and –– get this –– $20 for disposal of old tires. Well, after wading through the knee-high small print, I chose one of the deals and drove to the place for my new tires just before the storm was to hit.
The salesman came out with my paperwork and called me over to his computer. The printer seemed to be outputting the entire manifesto of Ted Kaczynski as I waited for something to sign. The salesman went quickly over each major item, and I noticed the total was about $100 more than I thought it would be. Well, sure enough, instead of selling me the promotion –– buy three tires, get one free –– I was sold the plan: Buy four tires, and pay for all four.
After a little pushback from my part, he went to see the manager. (Why do they always have to go to see the manager? I bet if I were to look behind the door that read “manager” I would find the Wizard of Oz, sitting on a stool, wearing a bow tie and holding a microphone.)
Anyway, back to the printer. The salesman went and printed out my bill, minus the fourth tire cost. I still had to pay for the recycling of the old tires, but that wasn’t so bad. Now I could face the Great Storm confidently, with new rubber to meet the road.
Peter Costa is a columnist for GateHouse Media. His latest book of humor is “Outrageous CostaLiving: Still Laughing Through Life,” which is available at amazon.com.