Check your tyres, but be nice about it.

“Honey?” I said to Mrs Ad-ist, “How long has the car been shuddering like this?”

“Oh, I don’t know, a couple of weeks?” she replied.
“Think it needs a wheel balance. Let’s swap cars next week and I’ll get it done”

So it was without much thought that I headed over to my favourite garage to get it sorted.

Armed with a book, a data friendly phone and a deep sadness due to it being Ramadan so I couldn’t indulge in a coffee from the petrol station’s coffee machine, I strode in to the reception area.

The guys there know me (kind of) because they were instrumental in keeping the OLD Jeepster alive, in all its sunroof-leaking/horn blowing/radiator hissing glory.

As recently as last week I was there with the current Jeep, with a failed battery. I rolled in, told them the problem, they checked it confirming my assertions that the battery was trashed and then phoned the battery supply place to check availability of the battery.

“So what?” I hear you yawn at your computer screens.

The so what bit comes when they jump started my car, and gave me a map to the supplier and informed me of the price that they had quoted should the battery folk try and nuke the price into the heavens upon seeing large dumb-looking white guy stroll through their door.

As it happens they didn’t jack the price by anything I thought worth haggling over, and had someone fit it for me in the street, who in spite of the scalding engine heat ,coupled with that of an outside temperature approaching 50 degrees Celsius, was happy as a pig in chiffon when I handed him the 20dhs that he had quoted for fitting the acid filled box, happier when I gave him an extra 100 for all his trouble.

SO… that’s "so what". The garage at the ADNOC on 32nd street near 11th is THAT kind of garage.

That’s why I really didn’t have any concerns as I settled in to wait.

“Ooooh sombody’s doing something on facebook” I was staring at my phone.
“Ooooh it’s stuff, with stuff ON stuff”

I was woken from my all encompassing facebook stupor by a nervous looking guy, who thought that I “had better come and see, your tyres – very damaged Sir”


I went and surveyed the damage. Both passenger side tyres had damage to them, damage so bad that I was stunned that they could actually hold air.

“Oh they’re fine” I said to the tyre guy. He looked at me in absolute bafflement.
“Sir they are damaged…” he replied.
“No.. they’re fine, no problem…”
“Sir, I .. um, they”

I Started to laugh, and at once he recognised my lame attempt at humour.

“Four tyres do you think, boss?” I asked

He nodded in agreement, then went to get the supervisor to tell me how much fun my wallet was going to be having in about 45 minutes time.

Just a scuff really, plenty of miles left in it...

The downside to my wife’s 260kph Golf is that high performance power needs high performance rubber in order to make sure that going around a corner involves actually going around a corner.

As a result V rated tyres are the only ones that were going to do the job.

My credit card winced at the news, then rubbed its numbers together with glee when it realised the frequent flyer points it would amass.

I retreated to the office to recover (I was not as enthusiastic as the card was) while the tyres were being removed from their racks fitted to the car.

That should be the end of the story…

…but it’s not.

While sitting in the glass office/waiting room that shows a panorama of the workshop, a car pulled up. Which is not unusual, it is a service station after all.

The guy who got out was obviously uncomfortable, but not so uncomfortable that he couldn’t walk in to the area that the workshop guys were working and clicking his fingers at them.

Given that he was covered in sweat, the clicking was obviously used to convey the message:  “excuse me my  air-conditioner isn’t  working, please could someone come and take a look at it.”

Surprisingly someone did actually walk over to his car, had a quick poke about, and then said something that obviously disgusted AC guy. Our workshop hero pointed at the manager (sitting about 4 feet from me in our glass, air-conditioned sanctuary).

AC guy strode towards us in a sweating, muttering mess.

The glass door swung open, and he was inside, standing in front of Ed, the manager.

“Hello sir” said Ed.
“I need you to fix my AC” replied AC guy, not burdening himself with the trouble of niceties.
“Your Air-conditioner is broken?” said Ed
“Can you do it, yes or no?”
“There are 2 kinds of..” Ed began.
“Yes or NO.” interrupted AC guy, obviously not used to people being nice to him.
“Provided there is no other damage to…” Ed tried again, no change in his friendly manner.
“YES. OR. NO” AC  Guy went on. Perhaps utilising the 3 words in the English language that are his favourite. He seemed to like them a lot.
“Yes” Said Ed.
“How long will it take?” Said AC guy.
“When we can start it it will take an hour, we are busy..”
“How LONG.”
“An hour” Said Ed, demonstrating that even though he was conversing with AC guy in a language that was Ed’s third or fourth language, in spite of that Ed had not trouble understanding the sweating white mess standing in front of him.
“Your guys will start it now?” While phrased as a question, it was obviously a statement.

Ed replied that they would start it as soon as they possibly could, but that it would likely be an hour before they could start.

“You can’t do it right now” asked AC guy, his tone suggesting that Ed was busy on purpose.
“In an hour we can”
“Is there anywhere else that can do it, if you don’t want to..” AC guy, still swinging .
“There are places around, but …”
“Forget it” said AC guy and stormed out, got in his steaming hot car and left with a small screech of tyre.

“It’s your fault you know” I said to Ed, my sarcasm NOT lost this time.
“I don’t know why, I told him we would fix it…”

I paid my bill, waved at the guys who had been working on the car and left.

They’re a nice bunch over there at ADNOC 32nd Street, screaming shame the customers aren’t always so pleasant.

AC Guy - if you are reading this. Bad lack re: the Tri-nations, John Smit's boys did their best.

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Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to www.athwebber.com

Thanks for visiting.