I think what I like most about going to the hardware store is that look on the sales associate’s face when I ask him a question:
“Do you have those little metal thingys, um, oh whatdya call ‘em? It’s kinda like a nail…only its all twisty and stuff,” I asked.
“A screw?” he replies, disgusted.
Well, hell, how was I supposed to know?
Most of these guys retired from the trades—former plumbers, painters, and carpenters. So they have an unfair advantage over me from the jump. Then they get all technical on me and stuff.
See, I go to my local hardware store for the customer service. If I wanted to be ignored I’d go to one of those big-box home improvement warehouses. Home Depot, Lowes—those are for men who actually know what they’re doing, and exactly what they need to get the job done.
The rest of us go to Tru Value, or Ace.
So, this being a Saturday morning, I gulped down my Follger’s instant, sneered at the op-ed page, and got down to making a list of things I’d need for the do-it-myself day I had mapped out ahead, then drove to the corner store.
And you know, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s this: If you’re going to the hardware store once, you’re going twice. Because inevitably you’ll forget something, or break something else while trying to fix whatever it was you were supposed to be fixing in the first place.
So there’s always that return trip to Ace.
And nothing says “dumbass” like walking back into the hardware store 30 minutes later…either to buy to RIGHT part this time, or buy the EXACT SAME part you purchased earlier because you’ve already snapped it in half.
Like I said: A lot of these sales clerks are retirees, so when they see me come back in and ask for the very same part again, they pause, get a puzzled look on their face (as the momentary déjà vu brings with it a fear of early onset of Alzheimer’s), then frown disapprovingly, shaking their head and wondering half-aloud how an all-powerful God could allow such a pathetic man to be so completely inept at simple repairs.