The art of small talk.

I stopped by Bud’s Tire & Wheel the other day. Having been there at least four times in the last couple of years, I was looking forward to the trip. The cycle of deadlines, fine print and foodservice jargon swirling around the office can wear on a person—I knew a trip to Bud’s would involve subject matter that makes sense and serves a clear purpose. Tires. And wheels.

While Mike, Bud’s son, put together a $50 spare for my latest junk car purchase, I was lucky enough to find Bud sitting in the shop. To my surprise, he was scrolling through something on his iPhone when I first walked in. Not wanting to interrupt, I politely nodded my head his direction.

“How are you,” he responded the way a grandfather might speak to a long-lost grandson. He tossed his iPhone to the side.

We started with the weather, naturally. Then we slowly moved on to cars and Craigslist. Eventually this led to old cars, Route 66 and the fact that he’d started Bud’s in the 50s and how glad he was to hear they had such a great reputation among my co-workers.

Like so many of the retail experiences I’ve described here over the years—especially the barber shops—I went to the business for something specific, but wound up getting an experience out of the transaction. After all, if you’ve got to spend money, you may as well spend it where people treat you like a human.

Happy Friday, friends. I’d tell you to stop by Bud’s this weekend for some conversation or maybe a tire or two, but they’re not around on Saturday or Sunday. Whatever you do with yourself, try to keep that iPhone from getting in the way of an opportunity to have a real conversation.

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