I am alert. From my porch, I sense you lurking at the end of my driveway, where lie 10 used tires, propped just so in their sets of four and, oddly, two. But these are not just tires; they are tires on rims, so their presence has, unlike me, substance.
Yes, I can sense you there considering the bargain, not to mention the cardboard sign, torn from the water-heater box propped by the garage, upon which I have crudely written “$50 PER RIM (negotiable).” Note how “negotiable” is in smaller print, because that’s marketing psychology. That’s also why I’m ignoring you, and not solely because the thought of haggling with you makes me secretly wish you’d go away.
But I am aware of you, just as I am aware that perhaps I should not have waited until the final hours of the town’s garage-sale weekend to put these tires out in an attempt to attract the trickle of looky-loos driving slowly up the street and parking in odd, traffic-blocking angles. But here you are, the far-from-early bird, gazing at rubber on rims.
You have volleyed the first salvo. Or salvoed the first volley, I don’t know, I’m not good at sports. Will I take $50 for the four? Fifty, you say? Fifty for four? Your opening bid is so ludicrous it prompts me to my feet. See how I saunter towards you, as though the last thing I actually need is to sell these 10 tires (on rims) that have been cluttering my garage for an indefinite period of time.
It’s $50 per rim, I say, pointing to the cardboard sign that I have jammed inside the hub of one of the propped tires, even though I know in my heart no one is going to pay $50 per rim. But $50 for four? Is that a joke, some whimsy to ingratiate yourself, some manly banter, some rim-related repartee? No, you clearly mean $50 for four used tires (on rims).
But look at these four you are considering, good sir. These are not just any wheels but mag wheels. Do not ask me why they are called “mag” wheels. I believe it is short for “magnificent” or perhaps derived from the expression “Ma God, those rims are sick!” The young people say “sick,” but that’s as much etymological wisdom as I am willing to impart.
I want at least $100 for the set, I counter, immediately plummeting to my bottom line, that’s how generous I am, though I leave no room for manoeuvering. I will even throw in these two odd mag wheels sitting here, because I am such a good neighbour and I am really sick of storing them but (not “sick” in the young people sense). You suggest that these two are only good for scrap. Your scrap is my clutter, I think. Better you than me.
Now you are referring to your religious heritage and an offensive cultural stereotype regarding cheapness, which is a crass negotiating tactic and also ineffective because, as I point out, I’m Scottish.
The nuts, you ask, where are the nuts? Nuts are expensive. I don’t know no nuts. I try to make a joke: “No nuts? Aww, nuts!” But you’re not buying it. Well, maybe you will for $60, you say. No, I can’t do $60, I respond.
You ask what I’ll do if I don’t sell them. I can’t just leave them in the street. They’ll be stolen. (Even if they’re nut-less scrap?) Yes, I will put them back in the garage. Yes, I do look weak, as you indelicately point out, but the funny thing about tires is they roll. Also: thank you for pointing out I am weak. Thanks for calling me nut-less scrap. We’re back at $100.
But the thought unsettles me. Ten tires on rims to return to the garage. Ten tires to take back out to the street another day, preferably not a late Sunday afternoon. Do I really want the bother? Should I take your final offer of $70, give you the lot, including the four winter tires on rust-pocked rims but still with semi-decent tread? Wouldn’t it be nice just to be rid of them?
No. Dude called me weak.
All right then, you shrug. All right then, I shrug. And we part.
I will retire the tires to the garage from whence they came, but there are two good hours of sunlight left. I return to my porch.
A car drives slowly past the 10 used tires, propped just so at the end of my driveway. I am alert…