Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Small details matter in the big picture of life

The moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free...
The ages-old song captures the essence of what the composer had in mind – there are many wonderful things in our everyday lives and they are there for us to enjoy if only we took the time to pause and appreciate them.
And love can come to anyone...
Yes, love can be free also – in the context of what the songwriter was talking about. Let’s just leave it at that, except to add that, yes, love is indeed one of the best things in life. I hope we can all agree on that.
But I would like to add a thought of my own about something that is basically free. It is one of the four basic elements we studied in high school chemistry. You’ll recall that the four are earth, air, fire and water. The one I am concerned with today is air.
The air we breathe is basically free, except, of course for the unfortunate folks among us who must carry tanks of it around in order to breathe. They have my sympathy. But for the most part, the air around us is free. Including the air that we breathe.
The air in the tires on our cars is also free – with one exception. Some places you have to insert four quarters in order to get about five minutes worth of “free” air. That is profiteering at its most extreme level. Shame. Shame.
But this discussion takes us back a few weeks, to a matter I discussed concerning a leaky tire.
The fact that I even mentioned it enraged one constituent, who felt that the topic lacked substance. He said those words were “fluff,” and unworthy of my attention. I should concern myself, he said, with more important matters, such as the Mounds Club robbery – stuff like that.
My feeling is that I have written enough about the Mounds Club robbery, and I am ready to move on to more important topics, such as the air that surrounds us.
Several readers, in sidewalk and restaurant conversations, came to my defense. The air is not fluff, they said, and is worthy of discussion.
One reader in particular, Don Miller of Eastlake, was quite eloquent in defending me in his letter to the editor. He made his point with convincing clarity that little things do mean a lot, citing a 1954 recording by Kitty Kallen.
Now, Don is not totally unknown to me. But I have met him only once and that was at one of Ed Glavac’s August reunions of Willoughby-Eastlake schools graduates. We had a pleasant conversation at that time, and I know him to be a person of manners, taste, decorum and eloquence – in all aspects of everyday living, but especially in the area of music.
That is because we have talked on the phone about music – without ever even having met each other. We have swapped enough CDs so that I know what his tastes in music are, and he is aware of mine. They are, as George Will would say, congruent.
It was he who introduced me to the eight-hour recorded series on the history of jazz, which I have enjoyed over several playings.
But we seldom converse, so don’t even know whether he received the copy I sent him of a CD by the McGill University jazz orchestra, which is by far the greatest college jazz group I have ever heard. And that is saying something. Of course it is. That is why I said it.
I cannot let you go today, however, without an update on my leaky tire. Or tires, as it were.
If you have ever had to go to the gas station two or three times a week to put air in your tires, you know what a pain in the neck, and elsewhere, that can be.
Well, the very day after that column appeared in the paper I got a phone call from Bob Willrich, the service manager at Classic Chevrolet in Mentor. That’s where I bought the car.
“Bring your car in,” he said. “We’ll fix it so the tires never leak again.”
So I took the car in, and guess what? Since that day, several weeks ago, I have not, even once, put air in any of my tires.
I have a button on my steering where I can check the pressure in all four tires simply by depressing it.
As a result of the bad experience I had with having to constantly put air in the tire(s), I became compulsive about checking all the pressures. Obsessive compulsive, you might say.
I check the tires constantly now. Well, not constantly. But you know what I mean. And I feel constrained to point out that the pressure in all four tires has remained exactly as it was the day I drove out of Classic. Which is a relief from the tiresome (sorry about the pun) routine of adding air two or three times a week.
They even washed my car! And while I sat in the waiting room I munched on a complimentary apple and had a nice conversation with a young lady who was a classmate in Leadership Lake County.
So thank you, Bob, for solving my problem. And thank you, Don Miller, for having some insight into what constitutes “fluff” and what doesn’t.


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