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Will ‘Inflation’ Put an End to Free Air?

tire airBy Josh Mitchell

Corinth Today News Editor

After I finished airing up my tire, the machine was still running and I could feel my money being sucked away.

That’s because I could not find Free Air to fill the tire on my car. I don’t think Free Air has become a thing of the past, but it is certainly getting harder to find.

If I remember correctly, there were once machines that stated “Free Air” on the front of them.

Flash forward to today when I saw a machine that accepted major credit cards.

It seems to me that it would benefit a gas station to offer Free Air because it would draw people in to buy gas, chips and a fountain drink after they filled their tires with air.

Josh Mitchell
Josh Mitchell

There very well could be gas stations in Corinth that offer Free Air as I did not undergo a painstaking search to find one. However, I did “shop around” for a better price on air. The first place I went wanted $1.50. I only brought along $1.25 in quarters, so I had to drive elsewhere on my already low tire to find air that I could afford.

The next place had air for $1.25, but even though it was cheaper I questioned whether it was a better value. That would depend on how much “air time” I got at each of the machines.

But seeing that I only needed about 30 seconds worth of air, the $1.25 machine was the “best” option for me.

I sank my five quarters into the air machine, and it started running. With those kinds of air prices, those machines should purr and play your favorite song. Maybe Travis Tritt could rewrite his song “Here’s a Quarter Call Someone Who Cares” to “I’m Sorry, I’m Saving My Quarters for Air.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not faulting the “air companies” for charging, as I’m sure there is overhead associated with the business such as keeping the machines up. But I would like to know what these air CEOs make each year and whether I can buy “air” stock. I’m sure some of the people who use the machines don’t take good care of them. This is evidenced by the tube and nozzle being left on the ground rather than being put away properly. I would like to say for the record that I am a respectful air patron and wish I could earn air points for a free tire fill-up.

The novelist Sinclair Lewis wrote a book called “Free Air.” If I remember correctly, the title was a pun that referred to free tire air and the freedom of the open road. But this book was published in 1919, which may have been a time when Free Air was more prevalent.

After I finished filling my tire Wednesday, I put the hose away as the machine continued to run. The hot sun was bearing down, so I got back in my car and drove away until next time.

Hopefully, higher rates of “inflation” will not drive up air prices further.

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