I believe my tire situation has finally been resolved.

After getting my rolled fenders sanded and sealed at a body shop, I went back to Les Schwab on Saturday morning to address the remaining issue–the tires still rubbed when the car was fully loaded and I hit any kind of bump in the road.

I asked them to doublecheck whether a stiffer set of shocks, or just new shocks could fix the problem, but consultation between the manager and one of the floor guys resulted in them replacing my all-season tires with a high-performance tire that was 3/4 of an inch smaller. They are brand new tires, and I suspect they are more expensive than the ones I originally purchased, but they swapped them out at no cost.

Over the course of the weekend I loaded the car to the gills, and bombed around on paved roads, rutted roads, and gravel roads. The tires never rubbed once. And while water was pouring out of the sky like someone upending a bucket, the car handled perfectly, never hydroplaning once.

So, my 14+ years of going to Les Schwab remains justified. I have read Les Schwab’s memoirs, and I am pleased to find that they continue to remain true to his philosopy of doing the right thing, and emphasizing customer satisfaction, and so I will continue to go there and tell my friends to do the same.

I was bombing around in the rain all weekend because I and some old friends of mine stayed at a retreat on the Oregon coast. We weren’t there for an organized event, but we had an inside connection with the retreat management, and so could crash in one of their cabins for a couple of nights.

It was a very laid-back place, something of a cross between a commune and a hostel. There was an emphasis on meditation and contemplation, and the other folks who were there certainly reflected that emphasis. The main lodge had a huge fireplace, and picture windows looking out across the river to the ocean, and that’s where most everybody gravitated, to have a cup of tea, play a board game, or just chat.

So we got to meet a few new folks, and exchange small talk, and what really struck me after a while was the reaction we got when we answered the question “how long have you guys known each other?” I’ve known one of these gents since sixth grade, and the other since seventh grade. With the exception of my wife, these are my best friends. I have remained in touch with them when the width of the continent was between us. Hell, I’ve remained in touch with them when the width of the planet was between us.

But people seemed astonished to hear this. I’ve taken it for granted for so many years that maybe I’ve lost sight of what a gift it is. You hear people talk of ‘life-long friends’. Can twenty-seven years of continual friendship really be that unusual?

I’ve always known I’ve been lucky to have such friends. Perhaps I am even luckier than I realized.