Mike sells tires. He sells lots and lots of tires and is probably quite affluent as a result of this business. He doesn’t look it — he is a tough, crew-cut Aryan-looking man with rather a grim expression who yells at his employees in fluent Spanish. If you try to strike up a conversation about something other than automotive parts, or simply ask him how he’s doing, he’ll say, “None of that ‘chit-chat’! What tires do you need?”
He once chased an offensive customer around the tire shop with a crowbar. (It made the local news.)
Why is Mike a “knight in shining armor”?
Because he digs wells. When he saves up money and has some time, he goes over to Africa and digs wells in small villages. Water wells. Many of these towns haven’t had a source of water nearer than three miles in a generation.
If you ask him about the wells, his expression isn’t so grim any more. Sometimes he shows you pictures of the villages. I refrain from pointing out to him that the ensuing conversation comes perilously near to “chit-chat.” (I have no desire to make the 100-yard crowbar dash.) Once he collected a cargo container full of fabric and clothes to send over.(He only did it once — I think he collected too much … )
I always buy my tires at Mike’s; he has good prices.
— J. Chennault, California
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