You know it really aggravates me when I can’t find something I know exist on a website. Now I know for a fact that the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs did an episode on tire recyclers. This job is known by some of us that have done it as being a “tire jockey”. Years ago a friend of mines dad ran a company called AZ Tire here in Springfield, IL. One of the things this company did was pick up tires for recycling. You see after you get new tires at Goodyear, PEP Boys, Montgomery Wards, Sears or some other tire retailer. Your old ones have to go somewhere. In most states a small fee is added on to the cost of your new tires to handle the cost of disposing of your old ones. This is where tire jockeys come in. Every store that sells tires has to get rid of the old ones somehow. So they ( tire sellers ) contract with a tire recycling company in most cases to handle removal of the old tires they accumulate over a week of doing business. AZ Tire at the time handled 9 different states ( I think – I can only think of 6 right now ) for a company called A Lakin & Sons.
How this works is you get a big rig ( semi ) with a trailer and you go to various stores and pickup the tires. For smaller accounts or in-city stores you would use a smaller box truck. You then load the tires onto the truck and lace them into rows. Lacing is a form of stacking that is designed to maximize space in the trailer or truck. Logic of course dictates that the more tires you can load onto a truck the more money you will make per load. The cargo from smaller box trucks would get transferred to semi trucker trailers. Then shipped to the Chicago A Lakin facility downtown. Stuff that wasn’t suitable for processing there. Would be brought back down here ( Central Illinois ) to be chopped up and burnt for fuel at ADM in Decatur, IL. Supposedly the tires help the coal to burn hotter so the ADM power plant releases less emissions. Or at least this is what I remember being told years ago. When out of state we would take the semi trailers to railroad yards. Where the trailers would be loaded onto rail cars and shipped to the Chicago area.
To make a long story short. Being a tire jockey is a dirty job. I had wanted to write into the show to have them do a segment on the subject. Then one day I turned on my TV and saw that they already had. I can tell you from real life experience. You will go home with tire dust in your ears, nose, eyes and hair. You will get wet and muddy. Especially if the tire store is evil and has outside storage that isn’t covered in any way. To this day if I see a Penske truck rolling down the road. I will say Penske sucks. Why? Because when they bought out all the Kmart automotive stores. Penske decided not to cover any of the outside storage areas for the old tires. Kmart had very few stores that had covered areas for storage. So you always knew you were going to get wet and nasty when picking up tires from their stores. Unlike Sears who had nice indoor storage. PEP Boys always had outside storage but in nice brick built units for the old tires.
I’ve always said if you want to see what someone is made of. Have them be a tire jockey for a day. You’ll soon find out what type of shape they are in and what their insides are made of. If you don’t have the heart to push yourself you’ll find out really quick humping tires into trailers all day. It’s far from the ideal job. I had fun being on the road at times. Saw a lot of cities but didn’t get to really enjoy them. Spent tons of time all over Ohio and the upper part of Kentucky. Illinois, Indiana and Iowa I got to cruise around in from time to time as well. Heck I even got to see Goldies and the home of John Brennan in Owensboro, KY. Only made one week long trip out to Kansas. But saw pretty much every corner of that state except for the westerner half.