So, I recently needed a new set of tires for my car. Long story short, I learned something. I’d go into the store and say I needed some new tires. The first time, I’d have to go out and look at the tire to get the size. Then I’d have to ask a bunch of questions about what tires would end up changed, and the guy at the store would get more and more exasperated.

(There’s a side story here about how they do everything per tire. Places will sell you balancing per tire, even though I’m pretty sure you need all your tires balanced. “Nine dollars a tire” sounds a better than “36 dollars”. It’s like mowing lawns and charging per blade mowed.)

Every time they’d ask a question, I wasn’t sure. I knew I drive a Subaru, it’s white, was pretty sure it was an Outback, mostly sure it was made in 2007, and that was about it. I got my tire size wrong a few times, had no idea how many cylinders I have, whether I have some special anti-theft lug nuts, or really anything else about my car. It was a little embarrassing.

Around then was when I had my big realization. The conversations felt a lot like trying to fix a computer over the phone. I didn’t think to bring in any information beforehand. In retrospect, I really should have looked at my tires beforehand. Done some research, you know? Then, I could have been informed and wasted everyone’s time a little less. No matter where you go, a little advance planning helps.

In case you were curious, my tire is a 225/55R17 with no special magical lug nut, apparently. If you’re the guy I talked to at Sam’s Club, I’m sorry I didn’t know that right away. I’ll be ready for you next time.

(Also, the Wal-Mart tire people have this clever system where they give you a bar code, and scanning it in the store tells you if your service is done.)