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Paul Chimera: You can’t put a price on peace of mind

Who knows? By the time News readers see this piece, there could be more than enough snow on the ground here to truly call it winter.

But as I write, the only white I see as I look out my window are the aluminum gutters on my garage; there’s healthy green grass everywhere.

There’s a simple explanation for this, of course: For the first time in all my years in Buffalo, I bought snow tires this season.

After the last couple of winters, there was no way I was going to spin my wheels again, literally and figuratively. I would show Old Man Winter this time around, by golly!

I’ve never had snow tires. Not ever. I figured I’d manage yet again. And besides, so-called all-weather tires are supposed to be fairly effective in, well, all weather conditions. Including infamously snowy Buffalo winters.

Except the last few winters in our town proved beyond any doubt Mother Nature’s ability to pile on in unimaginable ways, should she be so inclined. Like most folks in these parts, I’d had enough.

So off I went to purchase four snow-busting tires. Tires that promise higher blade density to help prevent block distortion and increase tread-to-ice contact. Tires whose flexibility and rigidity reportedly help the rubber tread adhere to ice surfaces.

It all sounded like I would be perfectly equipped to kick Old Man Winter right in the polar vortex!

And then the snow didn’t come in November. And it continued not to fall through December. The News reported we set a record in December for the least snowfall ever recorded here. And that got me wondering if I could have put that $500 to better use.

But then it got me thinking about other things we acquire in the hopes we’ll never actually use them. Am I happy we’ve started out with an uber-mild winter? You bet; I’ve never been a fan of shoveling sidewalks.

Some of us own weapons to defend ourselves, should the specter of a home invasion ever occur. But do we have them in the hopes we’ll end up never having to use them? Absolutely.

And what about all those cold and flu medications taking up residence in our medicine cabinets? They’re there in case we need them, but we awake every morning hoping we won’t.

And while insurance policies protect us against home fires and car accidents and other misfortunes that sometimes happen in life, we still hope we’ll never have to put those policies to the test. What we’re really buying, then, is peace of mind.

So the softer tires I’m driving on this winter – with their asymmetric tread design, their wider than normal grooves and lugs, their excellent ice grip capabilities – all add up to peace of mind. When the heavy stuff eventually does get here – maybe for some it already has – I’ll be loaded for (polar) bear.

Sliding tractionless through only a few inches of snow like I did last year behind the wheel – flailing about like a dog on a skating rink – will be a faded memory of pre-snow tire days. Now I’ll assertively cut through snow and ice like a Challenger 2 battle tank.

And if it happens that December’s unusually tame weather gets largely repeated until spring, well, I’ll have simply purchased something I never really needed but knew was there had they become necessary. Either way, I figure, I come out a winner this winter.