A Flat Tire Saves the Day!

Jan 26, 2009

RAY: This is from my employer/employee relations series and the idea for this was sent in by Jim Robson.

Here it is:

Tony was always late for work. Of course, he always had some excuse but the boss didn't care anymore, he was fed up! Out of sheer frustration the boss confronted Tony one day and laid down the law. 'If you come in late again with one of your bogus excuses, you're fired. No ifs, ands, or buts!'

Well, the very next day, Tony wheels into the parking lot late for work and naturally the boss is there waiting for him. What does he say? 'You're fired!'

Tony says, 'No, no, wait! I got a story to tell you and it's the absolute truth. I got a flat tire during the night. I don't have a spare, but luckily I had just enough air left in it to get to the neighborhood tire shop. They found a nail in it. They fixed it up and got me back on the road as fast as they could.'

'Oh yeah?' said the boss. 'And maybe you wouldn't mind answering a few questions. Did they plug it or patch it?'

'Oh,' Tony thought for a second. 'Uh, uh, uh . . . they patched it.'

The boss asks, 'Did they take the wheel off the car to patch it?'

'Yeah, yeah, yeah, they did,' Tony said nervously.

'Did they then take the tire off the wheel to apply the patch?'

Tony was beginning to sweat. If he gave the wrong answer, he knew he was fired. 'Yes, they did,' he stammered.

'Last question,' said the boss. 'Which tire did they fix?'

'That one,' said Tony, pointing.

'I believe you,' said the boss. 'Your job is safe. For now!'

The question is, what did the boss see that suggested Tony's story was true?

Now here are a list of disclaimers, hints and preconditions:

The boss didn't see a receipt on the dashboard from the aforementioned tire shop. Nor did he see a can of 'Fix a Flat' on the seat. He didn't see the donut or any spare tire. It was the same tire and it matched all the others. He didn't see any clean lug nuts and besides the hubcap kept them out of sight. And no, it was not flat again!

So what did the boss see that spared Tony the axe?

RAY: Here's the answer. Tony's boss saw a little chalk mark on the sidewall of the tire. It was put there by the tire shop so they could put the tire back on with the same orientation it came off. The chalk mark was opposite the tire valve so they could save Tony time and money and wouldn't have to rebalance the tire.

TOM: Ohh.

RAY: So they took it off and put it on the same way it went on, and he got back to work, and for that day at least Tony kept his job!

TOM: Wow.

RAY: Yeah, he subsequently lost the job by the way. The next week he said that the dog ate his car. That's why he was late to work, but that's another story. Do we have a winner?

TOM: We do have a winner. The winner this week is Holly Schmidt from Lexington, Massachusetts. And for having her answer selected at random from among all the correct answers that we got, Holly gets a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at cartalk.com with which she can get a copy of Ask Click and Clack, which is a collection of our favorite newspaper columns from the last two decades.

RAY: Congratulations, Holly! That's some prize.

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