Yesterday morning, I found myself considering smashed flattened automobiles being hoisted high into the sky, swinging around a bit, then being dropped onto a huge heap of other rusty pancaked cars below.
Underneath this exciting live show was a huge TV screen with a colourful 9-minute video clip on a loop extolling the virtues of tires being mounted and wheels zippily screwed manfully into place.
To my left was a glass wall of windows that overlooked the peaceful bird-filled banks of the Rhone River. And straight ahead were the inner workings of Geneva’s biggest tire emporium, Pneus Claude.
Yes. I had declared it a “service day”, and to complement an afternoon session in the dentist’s chair, chose 10:30 a.m. as the ideal moment to change summer tires for their winter siblings. It was the great bi-annual visit to Claude’s Tire Garage.
I used to dislike this chore, but over the years have begun to enjoy it. It is a bit like playing golf—you compete against yourself: the brevity of waiting time being the main goal. You succeed (as I did yesterday) by being out in under 30 minutes. Your car is the first in line. You have speedy friendly chaps—both at the check-in & pay desk and the rinsed-car return. Your tires are quickly deemed legally correct for at least another year. Your mechanic doesn’t stop for a smoke break after the first two tires.
And the waiting room has been greatly improved. Along with all the windows to keep a person entertained with the outside world, there is now heating, tables and chairs, a complete collection of all of Geneva’s free newspapers, a clean washroom, and, if you walk up to the fourth floor a fascinating showcase room of over 300 different models of wheel hubs.
Five vending machines hum importantly in the back corner. The queen is the panini machine which brings you hot flattened sandwiches 24 hours a day. This poetic choice exactly mirrors what’s happening at the demolition site next door as you wait excitedly for your number to be called out.
It is, primarily, a man’s world. A world of work boots, blue jeans, black t-shirts, and bellies-over-belts. It is invigorating and active with people and cars and taxis and trucks and vans and ambulances all busily coming and going.
Of course, there is no wicked crystal meth lab under the floor of Pneus Claude, but there COULD be as no one would ever notice. And Jesse Pinkman would look right at home in the red Pneus Claude jumpsuit driving their Mobile Tire Garage helpfully and hopefully through the Geneva countryside.