Let’s start with the grocery store.
Is it so ridiculous to assume cream cheese and sour cream would be located right next to each other? Both being such prominent members of the Cream Family. Similar containers. Right near other types of cream, such as whipped and half-and-half. Well, they’re not.
Cream cheese is snuggled in between other types of cheese, yogurt and eggs, while sour cream hangs out with the milk, Redi-Whip and coffee creamers. Why?! And beyond why: so what? They both look the same, smell the same, mix the same. “Hey, you got a recipe that calls for one, and you ain’t got it? Throw in the other and call it a ‘Supper Surprise!’ Problem solved.”
Then your cell phone rings, you answer and are told to bring home some pepper jelly. And just when you’re about to ask, ‘Where is that?” the call is dropped because reception in the Frozen Food Section is spotty at best.
Hey, here’s a surprise! Pepper jelly is not located near the jelly OR the pepper! Funny?! I thought I’d laugh my ass off pushing that wobbly-wheeled piece o’shit cart down one disappointing aisle after another. I finally found the peanut butter, was shocked to find jelly right next to it, and discovered everything from apricot to strawberry to grape to raspberry to… Every conceivable flavor except pepper. Turns out, pepper jelly is in the condiments section. Near the catsup and mustard. What was I thinking?
Have you ever wanted to just run down a grocery aisle with your hand and arm behind all the jars, bottles and boxes, and pull every last one of them on to the floor? Silly question. Of course, you have.
Actually, I’ve overcome my natural fear of asking for help. These days, I’ll ask anyone handy. Well, anyone except another man, that is. I figure they’re all as dumbfounded as I am.
“Let’s see. The next item on my list is condensed milk. Okay, that should be easy. I just left the milk cooler, which is where I found the sour cream. Okay, condensed milk… Gotta be right here somewhere.”
Okay, are you ready to hold on to your sides and slap your knees? Turns out condensed milk isn’t anywhere near the actual milk! No, silly. I mean, I thought I’d soil myself when a lady told me condensed milk comes in a can and is in the Baking Section. Oh, man. That is some funny stuff.
Okay, grocery shopping is finally done. And it only took an hour to select eight items, each of which will inevitably have something wrong with it.
All right. It’s time to move on to Lowes.
Lowe’s has done a wonderful job teaching their staff members where everything is located and how most of the stuff works. Plus, they’re unfailingly polite.
“Good morning, sir. Can I help you find something?” I’m asked.
Why do people insist on calling me “sir?” Is it because I’m old? Have gray hair? Look harmless, but still warrant some respect? Remind them of their junior high principal? Well, whatever the reason, I’m hearing it more and more and enjoying it less and less. Anyway…
“Yes, I’m making a coffee table with fold-down leaves. Where is the wood?”
“That would be in the Lumber Section, sir. Aisles 16, 17 and 18.”
All right, that makes sense. So, you go to the Lumber Section, select the wood you like, and then assume all the related wood finishing products are located somewhere close by. So, you stop the nearest staff member and ask:
“Where’s the sandpaper, please?”
“In the Paint Section, sir. Aisle 4, about a third of the way down on the left.”
“And the wood glue?”
“In the Paint Section, sir. Aisle 5, halfway down on the right.”
You begin wondering, “Do all roads lead to the Paint Department?” until you ask:
“And the woods screws?”
“In the Hardware Department, sir. Aisle 12, right on the end, left side.”
“Wait a minute,” you say. “Isn’t this entire store a Hardware Department?”
“Oh, that’s a good one, sir. I’ll have to remember that one.”
Patronizing, red-aproned little whipper-snapper.
“Okay, what about hinges for the table leaves?” you ask.
“In the Cabinetry Department, sir. Aisle 27, entire right side.”
“And where is that, please?”
“Near Electrical. Aisles 25 and 26.”
“Do you have a bathroom?” you ask, and then add with a smile, “I’ll bet it’s near plumbing, right?”
“No, sir. The bathrooms are in the Carpeting Department, Aisle 18, way in the back.”
“You know, what you really need in this store is a bar.” you suggest.
“Oh, we do, sir.” He enthuses. “Do you need a crowbar, re-bar, tow bar. We have several of each.”
What the fu…
At this point, I decide to pull out all the stops and beat this little know-it-all at his own game.
“You know,” I tell him, “I recently bought a nightclub and need to replace the dancing poles for the strippers. What would you recommend?”
“Well, sir, halfway down Aisle 5 on the left-hand side, you’ll find galvanized steel poles up to 16 feet long, which could work nicely, although, they’re quite heavy. So, you may want to consider a length of heavy-gauge PVC piping, which is in Aisle 6, on the right-hand side. It will be lighter, yet still sturdy. Or, I guess you could go to the Wood Trim Department, Aisle 20 about half-way down on the right, and buy a length of 3” dowel rod, but then you run the risk of splinters unless you apply a coat of 50-to-1 shellac, which will make it smooth and a bit tacky to the touch.”
“I was kidding,” I tell him.
“I knew that, sir.”
“Good for you, kid.”
How about that?