My car has four "run flat" tyres and no spare which is not an unusual situation in the automotive world these days.
The car's manufacturer promotes the tyres as offering enhanced convenience and safety because the driver no longer has to change a tyre on the side of the road – possibly in the rain.
The punctured tyres can be driven on, at moderate speed, for another 50km (or more) because of their reinforced side walls.
The spin continues: boot/luggage space is increased and running weight is reduced which increases fuel efficiency.
But generally they are non-repairable and I still worry about the possibility of having a puncture too far away from a new tyre source or having a night puncture so there is no tyre shop open to sell me a new one.
And they are considerably more expensive than conventional tyres though the reason for that seems pretty obvious – inflation.
So I imported a spare spacesaver wheel from Germany to give me more confidence on longer trips. And when I have to replace the current tyres I will probably replace them with standard ones.
The wheel arrived last week and I needed two other items. I wanted a scissor jack and a 17mm brace to complement my new spare wheel so I shared my need with the shop assistant at the front counter of the shop.
"Hrrumph!" said her body language. Then, "Well, if you go down to aisle (actual aisle number withheld to protect innocent scissor jacks) they'll both be on your left, one above the other," her voice said.
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"It's a 17mm brace I need," I added. "I presume the sizes will be marked?"
"Hrrumph!" the shoulders answered.
I'm delighted to report that they were both in the named aisle and were indeed one above the other. I took my two purchases back to the assistant.
I haven't bought a lot of scissor jacks or braces in my lifetime – I tend to focus more on food and clothing items – so I had some other questions to ask as the transaction proceeded.
The answers were delivered with eyeballs rolled to the heavens in the manner made famous by teenagers communicating with parents who obviously come from another planet or were born during the cretaceous period.
By the time I left, I really had the impression that I had inconvenienced her.
As I put my purchases in the car, alarm bells rang about the price I had paid. The shelf ticket for the scissor jacks said they were marked down to $42.
I took my receipt back and told the "assistant" – we were getting to know each other quite well by this stage – that the price indicated on the shelf was considerably lower than what she had charged.
"Well, I can't see the shelf from here!" she hrrumphed. "I can only see what comes up on the till."
It seemed a reasonable question to ask so I asked it. "Shouldn't there be some sort of correlation between the price on the till and the price on the shelf?"
"In an ideal world!" her upwards eyeballs communicated to the heavens.
Then, of course, I had to be refunded the difference and that was also quite an inconvenience.
In the end, all was sorted but I had the overwhelming feeling that I had really messed with this woman's day - that she would have been just fine if it hadn't been for a customer.
After last week's accommodation encounter with Boris Karloff and other "sharers", I certainly did not expect this week's retail incident. I was expecting the planets to align and things to balance out more quickly.
Surely, it can only be onwards and upwards from here.
- Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.