The minute I walk in, I’m assaulted by the smell that is not quite burning rubber, but nonetheless thick and toxic and artificial, practically a visual presence in the air. I find it hard to believe that real rubber could smell this industrial. There is an actual dark heaviness to it that is unusual, perhaps it denotes a type of human effort that was initially intellectual (I see people in lab coats), and then factory built by muscle and machines. Is it a dye that makes the tires black, or something else?
Even more disconcerting, the smell which at first seemed so toxic and invasive eventually dissipates to invisibility. The fact that it’s gone makes me wonder what’s being done to my scent receptors the longer I stay. The competing scent of popcorn in the morning doesn’t help matters, though I’ve since learned to wait until the afternoon before doing a first come, first served tire change. I ask the woman behind the counter if she notices the smell or if it just has become something she got used to over time?
Like me, she says that at first it was really obvious, but that now she can’t even smell it until she gets in her car to leave. Then, much like exiting a smoky bar, she notices the scent clinging to her hair and pretty much jumps in the shower as soon as she gets home. I feel fortunate that I only have to spend a short time here.