Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Lowe" Expectations

This past weekend, I was supposed to go out on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Instead, I fell asleep on my couch at 8:30pm both nights.

I am officially old.

I was going to recount my rather uneventful weekend here, but I really doubt you're interested in knowing what I bought at the used CD store on Sunday. Blah.

You see, most of my weekend was spent cleaning, organizing, painting my kitchen, hanging pictures and doing other household chores in preparation for my housewarming party this coming weekend. So it wasn't much to write home about. My room is finally clean and my kitchen is now blue. The end.

There are really only 2 bits of news I want to share:

1. I have lost 4 pounds. Go me.

2. Lady Starfish is in town for training this week, so I finally get to see my best friend. [Insert "YAY!!!" here.] We have only talked on the phone for the last year, so I am about to pee in my pants at the idea of actually seeing her and talking face-to-face with her. This means we will inevitably go out to eat, where I will proceed to re-gain all 4 pounds I worked so hard to lose. Not to mention the fact that all my alloted gym time for the week will now be re-allocated to long, analytical discussions about our love lives. Or, in my case, a lack thereof.

I do have a quick vent, though. I made a couple trips to Home Depot and Lowe's this weekend. And I have decided I hate both of these stores. Being a girl who is both a first-time home owner and extremely mechanically challenged, my first order of business in these places is to catch an employee and cling onto them helplessly until I get what I need from them: the answers to all 463 of my questions.

As if that isn't hard enough, I then have to select and make my purchases, take them home and figure out how to use/install them. If I am successful, I have bragging rights among my circle of girlfriends and a new feature in my home. If I fail, I have wasted time and money, and I have to continue making trips until I am successful. Which gets tiring.
I am ignorant of the environment, fearful of what lies around each corner and do not speak the language of the natives. I am only armed with the most insignificant of weapons: my poor knowledge of all things home-improvement related. And I'm most definitely not dressed to blend into my surroundings.

In short, going to Home Depot and Lowe's is the Wild Safari of the Single Girl.

I have been looking for Hercules Hooks because I really suck at hanging pictures, and I think they'd be great. I had heard they were sold at these two stores. The employees of these two businesses looked at me as though I had just asked them if I could buy Lichtenstein. They had no idea what I was talking about. You'd think that being A) male and B) into home improvement inventions would equal C) a thorough knowledge of Billy Mays' infomercial. Apparently not.

Fine, I thought. I'll just move down my list and see if they have the other things I need.

"Ok, how about a 13 x 19 air filter?" Doesn't exist, according to these guys.

Of course, what no one told me was that if you look closely at the air filter, on the other side of the cardboard frame, it says in large numbers "14 x 20", which is a very common size. I found this out when I got home and looked at it again. Previously, I had looked at the more detailed side of the frame.: "13.5 x 19.5" it read. Argh.

Nice work, home professionals. Keep up that fantastic training. Way to help the end user with their needs.

Next on my list...

"I have a lamp that doesn't work," I said. "The switch to turn it on/off doesn't catch. I need a new...thingie." (One of the things I dislike about these places is that unless you can 'talk shop' with them, you are reduced to using words like "thingie", "dohickey" and "what's-it-called". Because you don't look stupid enough already, wandering around in there like a lost little lamb. Then, when you are explaining what you need in plain English, they look at you like you are either mentally impaired or speaking Swahili.) It's always tempting for me to yell, "Look! Stop being assholes! You know what I'm talking about!" -- I guess I am a little paranoid that they are getting sick pleasure out of my desperation.

Then again, I can't really blame them. I would be doing the same thing if I were them.

While I will give them credit for actually understanding what I needed [Note to self: The technical term for lamp thingie is: " replacement lamp socket"] and showing me where it was, they neglected to realize that I have no experience whatsoever with dismantling small electrical equipment, and therefore, am totally terrified of anything which has the potential to electrocute me. I am also inexperienced with the following: tools, wires, electrical currents, dismantling, reassembling, knowing the names of small parts and of course, sockets. So I said to the guy, "Are these relatively easy to do yourself, even if you don't know how to do it and have never done it before?"

He replied, "Oh, yeah. You just remove the influx capacitor, switch the wires around, making sure the copper one is on the right-hand side and that they're not touching or twisted, and then you tie the Underwriter's knot in the wires, which prevents the nucleus of the energy units from mitosis. After that, you insert one pi's worth of energy into aligning the socket switches, taking care not to confuse this type of socket with one only capable of handling no more than 100 units of calendration at any given time. Then you just screw in the bulb and go. Theoretically."

At least, I think that's what he said.

I replied, "Ok, let me rephrase that. Are these relatively easy to do if you are the dumb blonde, first-time home owner, mechanically challenged human that I am, running loose in the home improvement store like a free-range chicken?"

He laughed, and then repeated what he had just said.

Needless to say, my lamp still isn't fixed. Look, I feel smart when I get the proper bulb wattage in my lamp. Replacing the entire "malfunctioning lamp socket" is entirely out of my skill set, people.

I went in looking for ten items, and ended up buying two fan pulls and a diet Coke. Quite the productive trip, no?

So much for "building something together." Because I can assure you, Home Depot, I can't do it. And you apparently can't help me.

Next time, I'm going to Ace Hardware. At least they bill themselves as "The Helpful Place". I'll have to put that idea to the test.

I think I need to hire a guide for my next trip. Someone who can interpret the natives and hunt down things much better than I can. One day, I'm gonna get hurt out there.

And if I ever see one of those guys here in the library, and they ask for back issues of Popular Mechanics, I'm going to snicker, and then reply, "Ok, first you look at our OPAC, which will take you into our catalog. Once you do a title search, you need to see if we carry it online or if we have a hard copy. Then, you have to see which issues and volume numbers our specific branch has here, to see if we have the issue which contains the article you're looking for. If we don't have the actual issue you need, either electronically or physically, you must fill out an Interlibrary Loan request form, located downstairs...you do have the title, page number, volume of the issue and author of the article, right?"


Anonymous said...

i am a frequent lurker, first time poster and i have to say i totally agree that both home depot and lowe's suck. they have NEVER been able to help me even if i know exactly what i want. if i have a question, forget it. the local hardware store is much more helpful, but a little pricier however it's worth it.

Stuck said...

While Ace is more Mom & Pop'ish, I would not recommend going there. You're going to get service from someone twice as old as in Lowe's, with four times the knowledge, and one-third of the ability to communicate in layman's terms. Ace, at least all the ones in our area, is for handymen. (And handywomen.)

If you need help with handyman things, or if you just need a translator to accompany you to Lowe's (and I like Lowe's better than Home Depot), I'm willing to tag along. I've been to Lowe's about twenty times in the past month. They tried to charge me rent last time.

Sam said...

Don't you know that you're supposed to use your boobs in a place like that? Look fabulous and adorable and innocent and make big eyes at the guys. I swear it works for me EVERY time. If your eyes scream "help me and I'll fuck your brains out" they will help. And dumb it down to your level.

cmk said...

I am TERRIFIED of electricity, so it was a MAJOR triumph for me to replace the lamp socket, cord, and plug on one of the living room lamps. It was very easy--as long as you have one of the many fix-it books out there (like a Reader's Digest guide) or instructions from the internet. If a MAN can do it, it is a piece of cake for a woman. :) You can do it!

Burg said...

Poor thing.. I hate men like that. I think we've all experienced that before.

Try looking at Walgreen's for that Hercules thingy.. They usually have a ton of "seen on tv" type stuff...

Matilda Jane said...

If you unplug the lamp first, it really should not electricute you. If it does, you should never touch a lamp again.
I would buy the part and try it... and if you can't figure it out, take it back and say it's broken. Maybe smash it with a hammer a few times before bringing it back.

I agree with you, though. The employees are not helpful at all... unless you catch a male (or, in one case, female) employee that thinks you're hot. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to either of these stores on a Sunday around closing time. I swear... the workers actually hide from you.

Lady Wanderlust said...

I HATE going into Home Depot or Lowe's. Nothing in there interests me. However, my husband loves it. I guess it makes me understand how he feels when I drag him to a craft store or the mall.

RWA said...

Home Depot is much better than Lowe's, at least around here. I agree with Sam. Showing a little cleavage might help (just kidding).

Getting someone to go with you is a great idea. Maybe they won't be afraid to tell the lamp guy, "Hey, speak ENGLISH!"

tallglassofvino said...

put that new digital camera to use, and take close up photos of what you're trying to fix/replace before you go. A picture IS worth a thousand (jargon)words.

Do NOT go in batting doe eyes and doing deep forward leans. You will be endlessly ridiculed the moment your back is turned, and they WILL remember you. If you have to do a complicated replacement, ask if they have a spare that they can demonstrate on for you.
I also ask them to draw diagrams, which they usually have no problem doing.

To replace things like air filters, etc, that are small enough to take with you, bring 'em in so they can match them exactly, and they'll likey take your old part for recycling, too.

Good luck with it! don't be intimidated!

Anne said...

I hate both of those places! HATE HATE HATE THEM. They always make you feel stupid..and thats IF you can find them to help you.


There needs to be a woman-friendly home improvement place..where they charge you more but are really helpful. I would pay.

Virginia Belle said...

anon-- thanks for the sympathy. and the tip!

stuckey-- thanks, Stuckey! i really appreciate it.

sam-- yeah, i know. that's what i usually do. but i just didn't feel like tarting myself up this time. i guess i brought it upon myself.

cmk-- ooh! thank you! you have good ideas. and you're much more helpful than any of the HD/Lowe's employees i've met. good to know it can be done by chicks. which shouldn't surprise me....

burg-- thanks, but you're too late. i've already caved and ordered them from Amazon. i'll remember that for next time, though. i wonder if they sell the vidalia onion chopper...?

MJ-- ha ha. very funny. you know what i mean. even though it's unplugged, i am afraid that it's got secret jolts saved up, waiting for me. like a snake. maybe i just have an overactive imagination. sunday. closing time bad. got it. thanks for the tip. now, where is my hammer...?

lady w-- LOL! that's funny. you'll start loving the stores when you get a house. now, i go in and stroke the marble countertops. then i drool on them. which can be very embarrassing. before i got my house, i had ZERO interest in those places.

rwa-- actually, i firmly believe in the power of cleavage, and i'm not afraid to use it. feminists can bite me as i laugh all the way out of speeding tickets.

TGOV-- this would be an excellent idea, if said camera had actually arrived. it's on backorder. apparently, forever. excellent tips. i like the recycling idea. and thanks for reminding me not to be intimidated. i am very intimidated in those places.

anne-- yes, i would totally be willing to pay more. especially if the tools came in pretty colors and matching sets. since this doesn't exist, i figured i'd beat them at their own game and sign up for some of their free how-to classes.