Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What I Will Not Ask the Nice Men at Preston Hardware

I am feeling house lazy these days. The dust is building up, my bathroom direly needs a scrub, and my piles of stuff are taking over. But I'm tired and I don't feel like doing it. It's strange, first because I love that shit. I love my stuff and I generally love cleaning it. (Except for the floors. I hate doing floors.) It's strange, second, because I have geared down into hibernation mode for the winter and it would make sense if part of hibernation mode involved making a comfortable nest. And for me, comfortable generally means neat and reasonably clean. (Except for the floors.)

Even besides the cleaning, I've got a few fun little projects to do. My doorknob needs replacing, and I have the new doorknob waiting anxiously to be installed. I have a storage bag full of summer clothes that needs to be vacuum-sealed. If you have never vacuum-sealed a giant bag of clothing, I highly recommend doing so. Useful and hilarious. It really does make the stuff you're storing 75%! smaller! than! normal!

I also bought eye screws and a stud finder the other day.

double-ended snap hookNormally, I am not a prude, and don't much care if someone in a hardware store or dollar store seems to have cottoned on to the fact I'm buying stuff for sex. In fact, I spent quite a while in the eye screw aisle seeing how fast I could clip and unclip a snap hook from eye screws of varying diameters. I don't know if the guy two feet down from me knew why I was doing what I was doing, but he kept stealing looks at me to see what I was going to do next. I generally have no compunction about going into a hardware store and buying 6 foot lengths of rope. If people know that I'm using it to tie someone up, then they're also likely using rope to tie people up. Or at least able to understand that sometimes that is just what people do and really, it's a smallie.

For the life of me, however, I could not bring myself to ask any of the very nice men at Preston Hardware if they could point me in the direction of their stud finders. Could not do it. There were two of the very nice men around, both of whom have been very helpful in the past and neither of whom looked all that busy. I bypassed them to go for the 14 year old girl who actually was busy.

"Excuse me, where do you keep the, uh, stud finders?"

She looks at me like I just asked where they kept the muskrats. "A stud finder? Stud finder? Umm? I dunno. Hey [Nice Man], this lady's looking for a stud finder? You know about those?"

"A stud finder!" he says. "Ma'am, right over here." He gestures grandly.

And there they are, in all their glory - a whole section devoted to the location of studs. Who knew there were so many ways to do that? He picks the cheapest one off the rack. It's an ingenious little thing, just a rectangle of black plastic with a yellow plastic toggle in the middle that houses a magnet.

"You just do like this," he says, sliding the stud finder over the wood of a nearby crate. "And when you find a screw, the yellow bit sticks straight out." Yessir. It certainly does.

I did quite admire the simplicity of it, but I do not have a huge amount of confidence in the construction of my house. For all I know, it's put together with string and bubblegum. Non-ferrous string and bubblegum

"Hmm. No, I don't think so. What about these other yellow ones? Do they use magnets too?" I pick a $15 bright yellow squid-shaped one off the rack and start reading the back. He fishes in a drawer and pulls out one of the super fancy $70 ones, even more squiddy than the finder I'm holding. From my peripheral vision, I can see that he's turned his on, and is pressing some buttons, opening the battery case, snapping it closed again. I decide the one I'm holding will do just fine, and turn to thank him for his help and walk away.

"So you do like this," he says to me. Takes his stud finder and slides it back and forth in the same place on the same crate, the place where the yellow toggle stood straight out. Nothing happens. He presses a button and a row of black bars appears. I assume this does not tell him what he wants to know, because he huffs a bit and takes it off the crate and snaps the battery case open and shut again. Presses more buttons. Looks at me. "It should find that. The stud is right there."

I shrug my shoulders. He shrugs his shoulders. Puts the squid back on the crate and starts sliding it again. I want to leave, but I'm not sure if he's still trying to help me. I don't want to disappoint him. I want his squid to work for him. Moreover, I want someone to be there to see his squid work for him. But I also want to go home. He huffs again, mutters under his breath.

I start to shuffle surreptitiously away.

"Oh," he says, the movement breaking his concentration. "I don't know what's going on. The stud is right there. It should find it." He presses more buttons and the black bars are back.

"It's okay. I'll just take this one."

As I turn and walk towards the cash, he continues to slide his squid forlornly across the crate. Back and forth, back and forth.


grace said...

Poor, poor little squid man. I do love the helpfulness at PH - I get it even more when I wheel the double stroller in there. The other day I handed over my shopping list and stood there while a bunch of helpful people ran helpfully around, getting stuff for me. Next time I go I shall ask to be given the squid demo, to see if the problem has been remedied.

Pearl said...

lol. Thank you for the early morning laugh. I needed that.

Anonymous said...

I think you should do a little study at hardware stores to see how often they make jokes or don't make jokes when you ask for a stud finder.

And when that gets tired, you could ask for caulking.