Hardly Where

If there’s one place where I don’t belong, one place where I have limited knowledge, one place where I have minimal interest; it’s a hardware store. Complicating those incontrovertible facts are the size and scope of the modern-day, box store-type monstrosity familiar even to me. I realize/have been told that size doesn’t matter; apparently, that message hasn’t translated to the hardware store. The height of the ceilings, the width of the aisles, the depth of the shelves, the numbers of registers, the miscellaneous service counters, the automated/sliding entry doors, the pick-up areas, the shopping carts, the “vested” staff, the interactive displays and the sheer variety of everything are totally overwhelming to me (I’m being kind to myself; now I’ll be honest: intimidating to me).

The chance of me walking out with the item necessary to solve the problem I came in to address is almost impossible to calculate. However, if I were to try, I’d guess, somewhere between zero and none. And what chance I might have would likely require talking with “an associate” and being able to accurately describe the problem and the presumptive solution. That sounds simple and reasonable enough unless you’re me. I likely wouldn’t know the right answer if I heard it because either I had asked the wrong question or characterized the wrong set of circumstances which precipitated my visit in the first place. Moreover, knowing the eventual outcome will entail yours truly returning to the store and exchanging the item or spending hours at home on a repair that a “normal”/capable man/homeowner would spend minutes on, makes the entire process as unpleasant as any I’ve undertaken. Yesterday was just such a day.

I wouldn’t say I’m still recovering from the effort, but neither am I basking in the glow of a job well done. Now I’m not going to humiliate myself and tell you what the attempted repair was; you can be sure it wasn’t plumbing or electrical and certainly didn’t involve a toilet or a trap of any kind. Nevertheless, when you’re a person of extremely limited ability, instincts and experience as I am, any home repair in which you walk away uninjured and without any further adieu (follow-up service call from a professional or need for a new /replacement item because you broke the first one or made the problem worse by breaking something else) is a “Mt.-Rushmorian” success. Certainly not worthy of a mention in a magazine, but worthy I thought, of a column.

Now don’t get any ideas that yesterday’s success (‘success’ in this context is defined as ‘not a disaster’) emboldens me with any sort of self-confidence about future endeavors. Hardly. The fewer and farther between they remain, the happier I’ll be. Yesterday’s experience was nothing short of a miracle and simply moves me closer to the inevitable calamity I will cause when next I am faced with a similar set of homeowner-type circumstances.

For me, the devil is not in the details, it’s in the “do-tells.” The problem begins with the problem. It is then compounded by my inability to communicate the problem at the store, it is then compounded by my inability to understand the solution to the problem I am given at the store and finally, the problem is compounded by my inability to do at home what I was told at the store.

Believe it or not, I can accept my level of incompetence; I’m used to it. It’s much harder on my wife, Dina, though; she has to live with me.


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