New Tires

Like most other Midwesterners, I have greeted the new year by indulging in typical January fantasies.

I have given dream space to whisking away to a warm-weather destination (within three-hours by plane) or a high-end spa (thirty minutes by Uber) where I could feel peaceful and pampered, where my biggest worry would be how much to tip.

But before I let my mind travel too far down this road, I considered how much of my Christmas bonus would be left after bills and budgeting for my February property tax installment. (Like I said, I’m a Midwesterner.)

I also thought about my car, a 2013 Toyota, approaching 40,000 miles. It needed care and attention, too.

This past week, while the roads were dry, and my workload was small, I made an appointment for my car. Whatever it needed, I told myself.

It was no surprise when the mechanic/manager, after dropping off the car at 8:00 AM, called me back at 10:00 with an estimate. Donatella Corolla (I have a tradition of naming my cars) did need an oil change, a few different types of filters, and a set of tires.

There was no question about having the work done, no issue about making the purchase, but I found myself contemplating the meaning of the expenditure. I didn’t want to frame it in terms of what fun thing I couldn’t allocate my cash to because I HAD to pay for car maintenance.

I remember an old theory of sales and marketing that basically says that people don’t spend money on things, on innovative electronics, or fancy threads. The bill for an incredible twelve-course meal cannot be broken into dollars per course.

People don’t buy things, or even experiences. People spend money on how they think the thing will make them feel, on some quality they want that they associate with owning the thing or having the experience.

Status, being the first on their block (or in their office), youth, a romantic notion of uniqueness or being a sort of rebel – these are examples of what people actually want to BUY.

So, I asked myself what I was hoping to get from the well rated, but modest, set of all-weathers.

I liked the fact that no one could accuse me of negligence or of being irresponsible.

I used to have a mechanic friend who would joke with me about the ploys a manufacturer would use to create income for their dealers’ service centers.

Do you know what to do when this light on you dashboard goes on? he would ask rhetorically... Cover the light with electrical tape.

But the car’s original tires were rated for 40,000 miles, and 40,000 is 40,000. This was not a case of a manufacturer setting up their aftermarket. Wear and tear is real.

I considered greater control and safety — confidence — as the qualities I hoped to acquire. And, in the most direct sense, this was true. I don’t like winter driving to begin with, and new tires makes the prospect of getting somewhere on slick roads much easier to live with.

But in conducting this little what’s in it for me exercise, I reminded myself that all the decisions I make are made in support of my best interests. It behooves me to take time and contemplate what actions are really in my best interest in different situations.

I’ve made greater self-care my theme and goal for the year. I have exercise goals and social goals, and goals related to creative projects I want to re-visit, if not finish. But, ultimately, I want to consider every decision, every action, from the lens of self-care.

Yes, my tires were rated to need replacement at this time, but I actually made the purchase because I WANTED TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF MYSELF.

Being aware that popping for new treads for my travels is in line with my larger goal –- taking good care of myself — is no small thing.

 

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