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Home Depot, You Let Me Down

6 Oct

October 11, 2018

I think my love affair with Home Depot is coming to an end.

There’s really no better place to go and browse. They have power tools! Hand tools! Huge crowbars, giant sledgehammers, and stuff to slice off your fingers if you aren’t careful. I’m a tool guy. (No, I’m not a tool, guy. I’m a tool guy. Let that be your lesson in the importance of the mighty comma.) I can shop there for days and buy all kinds of stuff and maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a use for some of it. I’m the type of guy who will walk in for a tube of caulk and walk out with a reciprocating saw and three or four new hammers just because, you know, I can’t resist them. My buyer’s resistance drops perilously low at Home Depot. I admit that I’ve never bought an arc welder or a blowtorch but I was thisclose more than once.

This will be me one day!

But this time was different.

I was there for some Venetian blinds. The wife and I are in a new apartment and though I put up curtains months ago I’ve been slow with the blinds. So it is either curtains shut and no light at all or curtains open and the neighbor across the driveway can see straight into my kitchen. And she has both curtains and blinds yet closes neither. I’m pretty sure she wants us to see in because (NOTE TO MY WIFE: Stop reading here. Um, to be on the safe side, maybe I should stop writing here instead and move on.)

See? You get the point and I didn’t type a single word.
NOTE TO MY WIFE: This is a perfectly innocent Seinfeld clip that has absolutely no relevance to this post. Yeah.

Normally I’d have jumped at the chance to put up blinds. I could use my tools! Charge up my power drill! Get out my work gloves with the magnetic patches to hold the screws! And… and… that’s it really. Maybe a screwdriver and that’s no fun. You see. not only are blinds just too simple to put up to get excited over, but I’ve done so many of them over the years it’s actually gotten boring. Give me a job like re-roofing a garage, or building a chimney anytime. OK, I’d probably call a professional, but at least I could stand around and stare at the hacksaws and miters. That’s man stuff right there.

But putting up blinds gave me one thing that got me grooving: I had to buy the blinds. Not exciting? I’m going to buy them at Home Depot!

So last weekend the wife and I went to my little slice of Heaven. I know the place week, know the layout. I fist-bumped the greeter at the door (confusing him to no end since he never saw me before and walked no, strutted into the store like George Jefferson.

I boogied past the  ceramic tiles and moonwalked through the garden hoses. And then I got to the aisle with the blinds and stopped dead in my rhythmic tracks. It was almost empty. Sure, they had the really expensive motorized blinds, and the really cheap paper stuff that you stick on with an adhesive until it either falls off or catches fire from a candle or even the sun, but the normal stuff? Nope.

Or to be precise, yep, but not in my size. I’m used to that while pants shopping (they don’t call me Mr. Big Pants for nothing) but Venetian blinds? Seemed like they had plenty of every size but the one I wanted. (Or the eight I wanted, to be exact.) I needed a simple 31 width. No biggie.

I looked at every box, every single stinking box in the blinds aisle. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I eventually did what no man wants to do, especially in front of  his wife. I am ashamed to be writing this, and embarrassed to admit this, but I… I…

…asked for help from an employee.

He was walking past and wearing an orange apron so he was either a Home Depot worker or a Halloween chef. I told him the problem and started to bring him to the aisle but he took out his phone and opened the app to find where in the store they have the blinds. And it only took him 6 minutes to discover they were where I was going to bring him 6 minutes ago. Thank you technology!

He went to the aisle and again got on the app. I could see his phone so no, he was not on Tinder or Instagram or playing Red Dead Redemption, he was actually doing something relevant. He poked his phone for awhile then walked away. Simply walked away and never came back, just rode off into the sunset.

This metaphor works because the sunset is Home Depot orange. See the thought I put into this?

Soon another guy in an orange apron came over. Picture a guy who you’e never expect to see at Home Depot but would look right at home on the internet debating if Kirk could beat up Picard, and this was the next employee to help me. I explained to him that someone else was helping us.

“Did he look up the numbers?”
“Um, he bent down and read the label on the shelf, and looked at this phone for a long time.”
“But did he look up the numbers?”
“I don’t know… he read the labels……. um……”
“But did he look up the numbers?”

This guy asked me that over and over and over and I still have no idea what he meant. But eventually he got to work. What did he do? bent down and red the label on the shelf, then looked at this phone for a long time. Then he simply walked away.

Again!

I fully expected this to be a practical joke and soon I’d be all over the internet as “man who can’t get blinds” but no, this was real. I was not about to leave without the Venetian blinds, regardless of whether or not they existed. I was going to take them off some guy’s windows in the building next door if I had to. But as I was looking for a manager to yell at, the second guy came back, pulling a ladder. That had to mean that he knew where to get the blinds, right?

Wrong. He pulled the ladder into the middle of the sales floor, nowhere near the blinds section, and walked away. This had to be a joke, right? What the heck was he doing?????

I never did find out the point of the ladder but he did come back, with no blinds and no clue about where to find them. But he was determined! After complaining about “the girls” who work in this section and how “those girls” never tidy it up, and how “those girls” never stock anything, and how “girls really don’t get it” he asked me to give him a few more minutes. I looked over at my wife who, God bless her, had not rammed anything down this guy’s throat, and looked back at the guy.

“No.”

He stammered a little and then I cut him off, said we were going, and hoped that the next store we went to had the blinds, or at least employees who know what they are doing.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not walk out empty-handed. I bought a flashlight and some sandpaper. (I have nothing to sand but it was the very fine grade so I had to have it.) The cashier was kind enough to look up from her phone for a few seconds to ring us up. I got a look at the Instagram page she was on and let’s just say the “the girls” she was looking at would have given the last guy a heart attack.

I have never left Home Depot so let down.

 

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Radio Time Warp

27 Jul

July 27, 2018

One of the strangest days of radio I’ve ever heard happened back in 1992.

At that time I was working as the supervisor of the stock and maintenance department of a large department store. That meant that I spent my days off the sales floor, in the warehouse area. Not only did I make my own schedule but I was able to listen to the radio all day. I’d put my radio on WXRK (K-Rock, 92.3 FM) and listen to Howard Stern all morning and classic rock all day. They’ve switched formats a couple of times since then but in those days Stern went on the air around 6 a.m. and went off the air at 10 but in reality his show ended whenever he wanted it to end. I was common for his show to run until around 11, and on one memorable occasion, to close to 1 pm.

I may still have this bumper sticker in a box in the back of a closet.

On this particular day, Stern’s show ended right about 10, which was always a disappointment since the longer he went, the faster my day went. But it wasn’t his choice: station management needed him to end on time since they had a whole day event planned.  It was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Summer of Love and they planned to treat the day as if it was a day out of 1967. The DJ’s were going to pretend that it was really 1967, introduce “new” songs by artists whenever they played a classic rock song that they had played thousands of times over, and talk about upcoming events, like the new album by Country Joe and The Fish they’ve been hearing about. The ads, however, remained current.

The DJ’s generally had a fun time but in the afternoon it got surreal. Dave Herman (though I believe it may have been Pete Fornatele) had special guests in the studio. Of course, this being pretend-1967, both they and the listeners had to work overtime to suspend their disbelief. Because there in the studio were The Doors! Ray Manzarek! John Densmore! Robby Krieger!

You see where this is going? Sure, they had The Doors- the remaining members of The Doors. But without Jim Morrison there was really no point. He was The Doors, no disrespect to the artistic talents of the rest. Problem was, Morrison died back in 1971.

But this was pretend-1967, so Jim Morrison wasn’t dead, he simply missed the interview. No one in the band was quite sure where he was- he was back at the hotel, or hungover, or somewhere, someplace, any place but absolutely not dead. In fact, if he hurried, he might make it to the studio in time for the show.

Dave Herman asked them about upcoming projects, all of which came out 25 years before, and they all danced around the fact that the one member of the band people really were interested in was not there, they couldn’t address his death, had to pretend it was 1967, and just generally, awkwardly, talked about what they want to do in the future as if it not only had not happened, but how it would happen if Jim Morrison remained alive, since they had no clue he was going die in just a few short years after 1967. There was even a touch of black humor when they talked about all the things they expected Morrison to accomplish, wink wink, and speculated what it would be like in the future if anyone would even remember the Summer of Love in 25 years.

I didn’t understand it, then or now. Was there no one else to have on from 1967? No one alive? Flo and Eddie of The Turtles became K-Rock DJ’s a few years later, I’m sure they were available. Why did they have in studio a group, though iconic, which had a glaring void? No matter what they did or said, or how they talked about their music, they couldn’t gloss over the fact that Jim Morrison was long, long dead.

Rather than celebrating 1967, this interview mourned 1967.

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