Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Geek v. Hardware Store, Round Two

My new Geek T-Shirt came in the mail: Four Ancient Greek Scholars in Horn-Rims taped together at the nosepiece. Late this afternoon,  I put it on before heading to the hardware store. My bed frame needs to be tightened again, and I thought maybe the bolt was stripped. This is my second try at a fix. Both times, I have Seriously dented plaster in the wall, owing to being alone for this task in the Valley of Falling (Box) Springs. So The Geek wants this Over and Done.

So: Hardware Store. Enter: the Geek.
One of the regulars is waiting patiently in his reading glasses at the front counter. I stride right up, dig in my computer bag, and pull out the bolt. It does have screwdriver scratch marks on it, which always make me squirm. The screwdriver, to this lefty, is like Waterloo.

"I think the bolt is stripped, so I'd like two like this one."
He looks at it and carefully not at me. "No, see, it's a locking bolt." He shows me that there's nothing wrong with it, and the cap keeps it from screwing down all the way. He's using the voice of the Patient Teacher.

"Well, darn," I say. "I'm not bitter about this, but I did tip the guy so he would do it right."
He looks at me with soulful eyes and shakes his head. "Even after a tip." Then he pauses a minute over the outrage of it all.
"What you need is a wrench and a screwdriver. You hold one and turn the other."
I had done this before, but obviously not well--with a pliers and a tiny flathead screwdriver.
"Okay, I have a wrench. I  bought it here. I know just what you mean."

But no, he takes a wrench out of the package. He takes the price tag off of the universal screwdriver so it will fit flat-head side out. Then he demonstrates. He looks at me expectantly.

"Okay, I can do that," I said. "I need a new screwdriver though. I can't find my bigger flathead one."
He shakes his head. I get the Soulful Look again.

"You know what will happen if you buy one."
I look at him. "I'll find the old one, right."
He nods, sympathetically. 'It's just the way of the world."

I ask, and the screwdriver is $5.99. He gives me a warning look.
"Be sure and take the price tag off like I did, or the shaft won't fit in the socket."
"Okay, I'll do that."

I hand the onlooking cashier my debit card. But it's self-swipe. The cashier hands it back to me.

"Don't worry, just read the screen," he says. "It has all the instructions you need."

The last time I wrote about the hardware store, I was gently patted on the head while buying the aforementioned wrench. I thought it was so funny that I wrote about it here.

Now maybe you think, as a person who believes in equal opportunity for women, that I would be offended by these condescensions. I figure it's a win-win. We enjoyed the encounter. He sold a screwdriver, and my bedframe is all right and tight. I also got a lesson on how to plaster an outside corner. Ah, owing to many sculpture lessons, I know how to do that too. I just don't know which plaster to get.

Everything's good. Miss Ellen and I even had an hour of quality time.

Refs: This t-shirt art is from, which looks closed. My shirt was from They're sold out. I may be the last Geek in the Universe with a t-shirt to prove it.


Slamdunk said...

I admire your courage for trying to do things yourself Ann T.

We have a local hardware store (along with a couple of large box hardware stores) that I go and plead for help on various projects. I am fortunate that the Mrs. is very handy so that she takes care of many things before I am asked to screw things up/become involved.

Bob G. said...

I'm one of "those" guys...a fixer-upper, and I don't mind doing anything, as long as I can get it (as close to) right the FIRST time...

I hate "projects" (small fixes, that, because of some obscure law of physics, winds up taking all darn day to accomplish).
Whenever I go to a big bov store for home fixing's like a SPEC OP...
- know your target.
(make a list)
- engage the enemy.
(find said items - never be too proud to ask for help)
- come out vidtorious.
(snag an unexpected bargain)
- go the hell home.
(self explanatory)

Works EVERY single time.

great post...never pegged you for geekdom.
(we all are inclusive at heart...somewhere)


Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Yes, I grew up in a house where my mom knew how to fix things and my dad didn't. I picked up some of it, but apparently not enough!

It's good to learn how to fix things--makes you less helpless. And I do love a small hardware store, because they'll take time to find what you need.

Mostly I know how to stretch canvas and build bookshelves. "-)

Have a great day! Hope you get to see the horses!

Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
Oh, you're so right! When you go to any big-box store, it's definitely a search and rescue mission!

Tell you what, I'm writing these rules down. They'll put me in a better frame of mind the next time I have to go to ANY of them.

I am due for a trip to Home Depot soon. I need to build a dividing wall (non-load bearing) between my bedroom and office. I plan to build it and sheetrock it myself. Ugh.

I am sure it will be a holy mess.

Also, maybe I'm not a geek? Maybe it's nerd. Yeah, probably. I can't fix computers either, but by gosh I love to talk books.

Thanks for stopping by! Words to live by, as usual.

Ann T.

The Bug said...

I don't mind condescension if I've already proven my incompetence (& in fact I usually LEAD with my incompetence just to get it right out there). It's the times that I know what I'm doing that condescension turns me into a feminist shrew.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
Oh yeah. I remember one time I was buying a vacuum cleaner and my stepson was there. The guy only looked at my stepson when explaining the power features.

I said to him, "Who has the money for this vacuum?" He thought I was a witch looking for a power broom.

Heh. I don't need a power broom for that.

Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
What a great post, and fabulous LOL coments as well.

My dad was a fix it klutz and not too worldly wise in the world of practical engineering. Probably his nadir was when he was going to plug in an electric sump pump in a flooded area of our partial basement. Ankle deep in water. Pump cord in one hand. Extension cord plugged into live electric outlet in the the other. I still remember yelling, "STOP!" at the top of my lungs then running crazy to the outlet to unplug it so he could safely plug in the pump.

I'd be a better fixer upper if I was more intrepid and had more back up. I'm always afraid of mucking things up worse.

Your T shirt: next time you wash it, lay it out nice and take a picture. I'd like to see it! The description reminds me of the atmosphere of the nerdy academically crazy college I went to.

Oops, epic comment! The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Please, please, never apologize for long comments. I want you to just say it all.

You make me feel better, because I do know I have never tried to fry myself in the basement. Score, Observer!!! Dad, saved!!!

Ummm, the t-shirt is here: .

(That's my girly blog with diets and cosmetics and housewares. Just me trying to get my life back. It has no readers and I may take it to private soon--it's not really a fun read--)

Ann T.