Monday, May 16, 2016

Hardware

I was in a hardware store today just because. I wasn't there for any specific reason. I mean there was nothing that I needed from a hardware store, I just like to wander around hardware stores absorbing the aura of machinery, paint, chemicals, plumbing paraphernalia, electrical doodads, and all those nuts and bolts and screws of every size and  shape that you can buy by the case or single piece.  That aura will permeate my soul, keeping it satisfied and content until I can return to recharge that feeling.

Some hardware stores are better than others, of course.  The newer ones with their nice shiny floors, wide aisles, and professional merchandizing, are a bit too slick for me.  I much prefer the old stores that you will find in any prosperous small town.  That is where the business was started by someone's great grandfather and handed down through the succeeding generations.  The store would have solid oak wood floors with ruts in it where customers habitually walk to get to the back of the store to pick up that one S-hook they need to hang the pot of petunias that the wife got at the local farmers' market.   All the walls will be fitted out with heavy duty pegboard that is crowded with the merchandise you just can't live without. Some of that merchandise has been there for years; you can tell by the accumulated dust and the faded package. The seasonal goods will be rotated in the front left corner of the store.  But don't look for Christmas decorations there before Thanksgiving, or the grass fertilizer and  weed'n'feed before Easter.

You can always count on there being knowledgable clerks to help you find the exact thing you need, unlike the new places who hire teenagers who don't know their adz from their zax.  Whenever you go into an old fashioned hardware store to find that 10-24x2 hex nut with the plastic lock washer attached, look for oldest clerk there.  He will probably be named Otis or some similar name from the past, and he will know exactly where to find any esoteric item in the store. If you are unsure of how to do something with that item, Otis will teach you. Otis knows everything there is to know about hardware.

Those old time hardware stores always have guy who can fix anything from the screen door that
your grandson kicked his soccer ball through (from inside the house), to your 25 year old lawnmower that he had to make the parts for. His workshop is usually in the low ceilinged basement lit by 4 bulbs hanging from that low ceiling. Larry (what else could his name be) rarely sees daylight and has bumps that cover every square inch of his head because of that low ceiling. The proof of his dedication to his job is the fact that if he could stand up straight instead of moving around in a bent over habitual slouch caused by the cave he spends all his days in, he would be 6'4".

Give me that hardware store anytime. Entering a store like that is like falling into the rabbit hole where everything is magical. I don't need to need something as an excuse to go into that special environment. All I need is a whiff of the unmistakable air wafting out the open door to lure me inside.

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