Every time I walk into the Home Depot, I wonder who else is as clueless as me, and who else might actually know something about carpentry.
Almost every guy there looks competent. Pencil behind the ear, tape measure clipped to the belt, they all wear blue jeans and thoughtful expression, ready at any moment to grab a radial arm saw and get down to business building that shed, or that condominium, or, in my case, that Oddly Trapezoidal Collapsing Flower Box.
In the store, they masquerade as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. They stare intently at different flooring options, as if calculating the exact square footage they need. In truth they are trying to figure out if they can get by without a floor, and if The Wife would notice.
Observe how the male specimen follows the ethos of his gender when approached by an orange-aproned drone. “Can I help you with anything?” asks the employee, who is really saying, “I know you don’t know anything about insulation; you’ve been staring at it for a half-hour.”
And yet the male must maintain the image of competence, the same primal urge to have everything under control that keeps him from asking directions. So he says, “I think I’m all set.” If desperate, he might say, “Well, I’m really leaning toward the Owens Corning R-13, what do you think?” Saying this much is a risk, because what if Owens Corning R-13 is a stupid choice, not at all what one would use to weather-proof the outside of a doghouse?
I imagine there are hundreds of thousands of Americans ready, like I am, to sue The Home Depot for false advertising. Their slogan, “You Can Do It, We Can Help” is completely misleading.
I suppose they could wiggle out of any liability by pointing out how their ad doesn’t specify what they mean by “it.”
If “it” means “getting out of the store without waiting in line for 45 minutes,” I’d have a case.
If “it” means “getting bad advice from a guy in the plumbing section whose only expertise about plumbing comes from showering every five or six days,” I could be in for a long day in court.
But supposing “it” refers to anything having to do with successfully completing a home renovation or repair project, payday for me.
If they really wanted to “help,” they would set up booths in every department where experienced handymen or handywomen would point out how much money and time I would save by hiring them, particularly when you include the cost of marriage counseling.
Painting is the worst. Our most recent home renovation called for me to paint a ceiling white, which was the most physically demanding task I’d had to undertake since playing racquetball the day before, so naturally I resented having to do it while my wife took care of the baby.
When it looked like we might run out of paint, I strategically avoided covering a few inconspicuous spots. I didn’t pay much attention to drips and such, mainly because I got distracted into the groove of Led Zeppelin on my mp3 player.
When my wife came in, she frowned. An act of war. She was disappointed over me doing a 100% pristine Michelangelo-quality job on our ceiling.
Having endured almost 90 minutes of tortuous backbending labor, I lost it. I threw a berserk temper tantrum like you wouldn’t believe. I’m pretty sure I got the neighbors’ attention, which is hard to do because our neighbors are horses.
How dare she live the life of luxury and then jump down my throat with her nitpicky demands?
We called in a friend for a third opinion. “Dude,” he said, “it looks impressionist.” I guess that’s not what one looks for in one’s family room.
Some friend. Real helpful, thanks. I told him he missed his calling. He should have gotten a job at the Home Depot.