The Hardware Hike


In case you’ve missed me, I’ve been lost at a big box hardware store for three days. Why do they make those stores so big? I know they need a lot of room for their lumber, lawnmowers, and ceiling fans, but a body could go in one of those stores and never find their way out.

I needed a package of screws. Screws, a two-dollar item. To find screws I had to go through aisles and aisles of more stuff than you will ever need in your lifetime. I didn’t know what some of it even was, much less what it might be used for.

This was not my usual hardware store. I go to another store because it is closer to my home. But I was right next door to it anyhow doing another errand. It seemed silly not to go in and get the screws while I was there.

I decided to go in through the garden center entrance since it was close and the front door was three miles in the hazy distance. After wading through acres of petunias, begonias and assorted bedding plants, I finally came to the real door, the one that goes inside the store.

How on God’s green earth are we expected to find anything in that giant-size toolbox of nuts and bolts? I’m spoiled by the Internet where you just type it into the search engine and go straight to where you want to be. I needed a GPS to zoom in on the screws.

After a quick surveillance of the area, I knew it was totally hopeless. I would have to ask someone. The problem is that asking someone meant finding someone to ask. The friendly orange vests suddenly all disappear when you need them. I think they don’t know where anything is either and would rather not be asked.

After dodging a 20 foot stack of boxes on wheels being pushed down the aisle by an invisible person, I finally cornered an orange vest long enough to get directions. I didn’t understand the directions, but I got them. “Turn by the lawn mowers and cut though the paint, and hardware will be right there.”

I’m sure there must be people who turn by the lawnmowers, cut though the paint and are never seen again. When you file my missing person report, just say, “Last seen in a hardware store looking for screws.”

I finally, at last, found the right area, and then it was a matter of finding the right item. There are hundreds of screws… millions of screws… long screws, short screws, fat screws, skinny screws, wood screws, metal screws, Phillips screws, slotted screws, concrete screws, stud screws, and screws for which no name has yet been invented and probably never will be.

I needed four screws. I finally found a package with a dozen, plus some mysterious plastic holders. At this point, I didn’t care. I’d just wanted to buy screws and go home before I collapsed from fatigue.

Finding the front door took another two days and even then I had to tackle an orange-vested employee and put him in a strangle hold until he agreed to show me where it was. I crawled up to the row of cash registers and put my screws on the counter gasping.

“Is that all,” inquired the clerk as she waved them across the scanner. “Is that all?” Is she kidding? It took me three days to find those screws. I could only think of one other thing that I could possibly need – a search and rescue helicopter.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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