Archive for the ‘home depot’ Tag
Before I begin, I would first like to show you the deepest trough of a customer I have had to deal with to date.
The phone rang. I answered it.
Kelsey: Thank you for calling Home Depot, how can I direct your call?
Customer: Yes, I have a question. How much does your building cost?
Customer: I mean, it’s a big store. I can’t imagine how much it costs to heat and air condition, it must cost a fortune. It’s a huge store. Just the land must be hugely expensive. So I want to know, why does your management bother having that giant brick-and-mortar store if they’re just going to put everything on their website?
Customer: So anyway, the meat of my call is that I saw this chandelier in a magazine and it said that you could buy it at Home Depot so I went into your store but you didn’t have it. I asked a guy and he said it was on your website and I asked him for more information on the chandelier but he said he was new and couldn’t help me and walked away.
Sears Home Appliances — We Got a Guy (Cavernous)
Damn you, accurate criticism!
Kelsey: Well ma’am, I can definitely try to help you. Can you tell me about chandelier?
Customer: Well it was only a little tiny image in the magazine but it was a five-light antler chandelier for $189.
Hampton Bay 5-light Natural Antler Hanging Chandelier
Kelsey: I have it pulled up here in front of me. What would you like to know about it?
Customer: How big is it?
Kelsey: It’s…let’s see…it’s 26 inches in diameter.
Customer: What…what’s a diameter?
Kelsey: It’s the size of a circle from one side to the other side.
Customer: I’m sorry?
Kelsey: It’s…the measure of a circle from one side all the way to the other side.
Customer: What does that have to do with the chandelier?
Kelsey: Well it’s a circular base. So you would measure it from tip to tip, and that’s 26 inches. It’s 19 inches high and 26 inches wide.
Customer: 26 inches from what point?
Kelsey: Uh…you know what, the radius is 13 inches.
Customer: What is a radius?
Kelsey: That’s the measure from the middle of the circle to the end of the circle. So from the center of the chandelier to the edge of the chandelier, that’s 13 inches.
Customer: Why would I want to know that?
Kelsey: I don’t know…I just…the chandelier is 26 inches.
Customer: And you don’t have the chandelier in front of you?
Kelsey: No ma’am, just a picture from the website.
Customer: This is so useless. How can you know from a picture if it’s a good fit or not?
I don’t know, how can you tell from a tiny magazine photo if it’s a good fit or not? Cheese and crackers, I spent the rest of the conversation explaining that no, you have to pay for the chandelier before anyone will ship it anywhere. I just. After the conversation ended, I just had to sit back and think about the fact that this woman called to complain that we have a website.
Anyway, I am sick. I don’t know why. For the past week, I have been experiencing nausea. I’ll stand and make phone calls and I’ll have to pause and put a hand over my mouth because I just experienced a sudden, intense wave of sickness. I haven’t thrown up or anything, but I just…I just feel overwhelmed by the sickness or something and I have to sit down or put my head in my hands. I also have some heartburn and I feel flush and warm sometimes, but mostly it’s the nausea.
I’ve had random spells like this before. I just get sick sometimes, for no reason.
Cropped and edited version of a pic by thepan
I remember when I was on the verge of turning 26 and I mentioned to Mom that hey maybe I didn’t need health insurance, and she said, “Remember when you randomly got hives for weeks on end? You just get sick! You need health insurance!”
What’s weird about this is that while eating definitely makes the symptoms worse, it doesn’t matter what food I actually eat. I tried to deal with the problem by eating small meals made of up mild foods, like rice and crackers. Then one day I snapped and had James take me out for Mexican food. I had exactly the same after-meal nausea.
So this morning when I nearly threw up trying to process an appliance refund, I decided that I would wait until my mid-shift coverage arrived, and then I would go to the doctor. Because seriously, it has been a week and there is just no sign of stopping. It has been long enough that I can classify “good days” and “bad days” and today was a “medium day” while yesterday was a “good day” and the day before was a “bad day”.
Fortunately Home Depot understood because Home Depot has very good management. I went to the urgent care closest to my townhouse. They did the tests: I have a very mild fever (I am normally in the upper 97s but am currently in the mid-98s). I explained my symptoms in between belching because goodness gracious whatever it is that I have gives me gas.
First thing they did was test for pregnancy and No, I Am Not Pregnant. So they gave me a prescription for anti-acids (for the heartburn) and been referred me to an ultrasound person to test for gallstones.
The Awkward Yeti
And now I’m sitting here waiting for my body to finish processing my lunch. After I finish this post, I’m going to make some phone calls, get the utilities for the new house set up because we close on Friday. Then I guess I’ll do word puzzles until I feel okay enough to start sorting books and packing.
Oh man oh man oh man — it’s my favorite thing to do! Register for classes!
Now fortunately Wake Tech has a guide for what order to take what classes. So I guess I’ll take ARC 111 and DES 112? I don’t know what those are. Introductory courses for architecture and creative design, I think. So that’s set, I guess.
So here are my options:
A) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom MW 9:30-9:55AM
Lab MWF 10:00-11:50AM
B) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom MW 1:00-1:25PM
Lab MW 1:30-3:20, F 1:00-3:10
C) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom MW 3:30-3:55PM
Lab MW 4:00-5:50, F 3:30-5:30
D) ARC 111: Introduction to Architecture Technology
Classroom TR 6:00-6:25PM
Lab TR 6:30-9:20PM
DES 112: Building/Construction Systems
Classroom F 8:25-9:55AM
Now obviously I’m taking the one Design course being offered. And the good news is, it’s a hybrid course! I’m trying to keep my availability as open as possible for work, so this is good. Just some Friday mornings I can’t work, I’ll just ask off ahead of time as a partial day off. Or switch with the closer. Or something. And honestly the last ARC option, which meets at night two days a week, instead of during the day three days a week, seems like the best option for me. Home Depot seems to like having me open. And 9:20 isn’t too late of a night! Some night classes at Mason, I wouldn’t leave until 11:00!
So that’s it then. I just have to submit my schedule. And then, starting in mid August, Tuesday and Thursday nights, and some Friday mornings, I’ll be a student again.
I’m so excited!
So it turns out that you can’t take DES 112 without taking ARC 111 and ARC 114! Which have to be taken at the same time! Aheheheh.
A) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classroom MWF 10:00-10:17AM
Lab MWF 10:18-11:10AM
LabA MWF 11:15-12:05
B) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classroom MWF 1:00-1:17PM
C) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classrom TR 1:00-1:25PM
Lab TR 1:30-2:55PM
LabA TR 3:00-4:25
D) ARC 114: Architectural CAD
Classroom MW 6:00-6:25PM
Lab MW 6:30-7:55
LabA MW 8:00-9:25
I’m not entirely sure what’s up with the two labs. They don’t charge extra for Lab A. It just is. You sign up for one and immediately get registered in the other, at least according to the instructions.
So how do I minimize the impact on my availability? Here are the typical shifts on any given day at Home Depot Special Services:
Now I currently work a lot of opening shifts, for whatever reason. Maybe my coffee habit makes me the right amount of perky first thing in the morning. Maybe I do a good job getting the department ready. Maybe management appreciates me blasting electronic dance music at 6:15 in the morning. Maybe Kristy copies and pastes the schedule whenever possible. Who knows. For whatever reason, I open a lot.
So, like, do I make myself available as much as possible for opening shifts? Plan around that? Take ARC 111 D and ARC 114 D, and just plan on taking four nights of night classes every week? Or do I plan on taking Tuesdays and Thursdays off every week, and only Tuesdays and Thursdays off every week, and do two full days of classes? Come what may the other five days?
Maybe I should consult management.
Last night two new folks were scheduled to close Customer Service and Paint, respectively, and as someone with experience in both, I was scheduled to train them both, at the same time. This is a fantastic plan that had no way of backfiring whatsoever. As I stood in the blinds aisle cutting vinyl blinds because all the Flooring folks were at lunch, with no one but a cashier in Customer Service, and Bernard, the new Paint guy, standing next to me asking how to make paint samples, I reveled in how good of a plan this was.
Just take a moment to unload that previous sentence, because there’s a lot of information in there, my goodness.
I actually spent most of the evening in Paint. For the first half of my shift, the Customer Service supervisor, Lashawnia, was working, so I could be away from the Customer Service desk. Then after that, there was just the cashier behind the desk, and I was there to answer any questions or to cover difficult cases. Because the new guy in Customer Service didn’t show up. So there was no one to train.
Not that Paint was much better.
When it came to the actual Paint-specific aspects of the work, Bernard did okay. It was his second day in Paint, so he had a lot of product-specific questions. He didn’t know how to build an order, and that’s okay, because there’s a lot to learn. He seemed to pick up on it and was doing pretty well building those orders by the end of the night. I told him several times that it was okay to ask questions and not know, because there’s a lot to know. If anyone from Home Depot showed up to chat, I made sure to introduce Bernard and tell them that he was doing a good job, because new folks need to be told that.
When I came back from lunch, I needed to take over Customer Service. So I walked the Paint aisles with Bernard. I gave him a basic tour of the four aisles, told him which products were the ones customers asked about the most, and which bays needed the most work. He said he knew about front-facing (pulling merchandise to the front of the shelf and lining it up to make it look good). The Paint department head, TJ, and told me specifically to make sure he understood this concept, because a lot of the new Paint department folks don’t do front-facing. So I did my best to make it sound like most of what we do is front-facing.
“So if something is in the wrong place, do I just put it in a cart and then put it away later?”
“I usually just walk it back to its correct spot,” I said. “But if putting it in a cart and putting it away later is what you need to do, then go for it. That’s a good idea.
“This should take you the rest of the night,” I told him around 7:30. “Heck, most of the time I don’t even finish front-facing. So just pull everything to the front, keep an eye out for customers, and every once in a while check on your returns.”
At 8:30, when I was in the middle of helping a customer find his order, Bernard walked up to me.
“I finished front-facing, what do I do now?”
I told him to hold on. I finished with the customers (their order was actually at the other Durham Home Depot). Then I went and walked the aisles with him.
He hadn’t finished front-facing. In fact, I’m not even sure he had done any work at all. Boxes of merchandise were still sitting in the back of the shelves, waiting to be pulled forward. There were tubes of caulk and bottles of glue leaning over. I found gloves and spackling sitting on the wrong shelves. Cans of paint were sitting on the floor. Boxes of sandpaper were sticking out into the aisles. Brushes were hanging backwards.
But, you know what? He’s new. He doesn’t know how to tell if a shelf looks good or not.
So I stood there with him and pulled some boxes of caulk forward, while explaining what I was doing. I pushed some sandpaper back. I combined two boxes of glue into one and put the now-empty box into the cart of empty cardboard boxes. I walked the spackling back to the spackling bay, and then showed him the returns boxes at Customer Service. So I showed him, physically, what to look for, and how to fix it.
I didn’t see him again for another hour. I don’t know what he was doing for that hour, but it wasn’t cleaning the aisles, that’s for sure. Next time I saw him was after I paged for him overhead to come make some paint for some customers.
“What do I do now?” he asked him when he finished with them.
I decided to show him how to fill the dispensers. He said that he had worked in a hat-printing shop for a while, so he knew how to do that. And he did, in fact, know how to work that aspect of the job. He did a fine job there. I made sure to emphasize to him several times only fill the containers if you can see four paddles and don’t leave quarts of colorant partially empty, use the whole thing.
I texted James, since he’s an assistant manager in a retail environment. I told him that I had first explained what to do, then showed Bernard what to do, and he still hadn’t done it. I was honestly flabbergasted about what to do. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be the bad guy, bitching at him about how messy everything was. On the other hand, everything was messy and I didn’t want to do everything myself. I’ve been take advantage of before. What do I say? How do I say it?
James told me that I had done everything correctly and that the only thing left to do was complain to his supervisor. Guh.
Bernard left at 10:00, which was when his shift was over. So I spent the rest of my shift cleaning the aisles. I worked mostly with the sandpapers, glues, and the applicators, pulling as much stuff forward as I could. I left the store knowing that everything still looked like crap, but I had only had an hour to work on it, and like I told Bernard, front-facing is a never-ending task.
At about 10:30 the cart o’ cardboard boxes was so full it was starting to topple, so I decided to walk it to the back, even though that’s usually something I do at about 10:50. On my way there I encountered Kelly, the department head of Electrical. When I started at Durham Home Depot, she was the head of Paint, and we’ve struck up a friendly relationship. After all, she’s Kelly M and I’m Kelsey M.
I told Kelly about my struggles with getting Bernard to clean the shelves and how frustrated I felt about it. She said that getting Paint workers to do work on the shelves was a never-ending struggle. The other new guy, Chris, always just hung out at the Paint Desk. She would regularly set him to some task, only for him to do the bare minimum amount of work and then go back to the desk.
I told her that last time I worked with Chris, it was an opening shift and I had had to show him how to do the Safety Checklist (which is fine, it’s easy to forget to tell new people about the Safety Checklist, so it was good that I showed him). Chris had done the checklist then went back to the desk. So walked up to him and told him that when I opened, I usually worked on Aisle 3 (so I could keep an eye on the Paint Desk) or on Aisle 5 (which always needs work). Chris had said, “Yeah, Aisle 5 is always a mess,” then went back to his phone.
“Why didn’t you tell him to put his phone away and get to work?” Kelly asked.
“We’re both hourly associates,” I said. “We’re equals.”
Kelly shook her head. “I think of you as a Lead Associate,” she said. “You can tell people what to do.”
I honestly had no idea what to say to that.
I remember last summer, I spent an hour or so doing nothing but cleaning the glue shelves. I organized and front-faced all of the shelves, pulled more glue down from the overhead, etc. Afterwards I gathered up all the cardboard and walked it to the cardboard cart over by the desk, only to look at the two associates there and realizing that they had just had a rush of customers.
“I’m so sorry, if I had realized you had a rush I would have helped,” I said.
One of the full-timers, Don, told me that it was okay. “You were doing work,” he said. “We handled it alright. That’s what we like about you, you’re one of the part-timers who actually does things.”
At the time all I could think about was how I hadn’t checked on the desk to see if there were customers. But now, remembering my frustration with Chris and Bernard, I understand where he was coming from.
A few days ago I was at work, helping a man apply for a credit card. He would answer my questions with “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” and so on. At one point, he looked right at me, and asked, “Ma’am, if you you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”
I had to think. “Twenty-nine,” I answered, truthfully.
“Twenty-nine? I’m almost forty.” He shook his head. “Why do I keep calling you ma’am?”
“Well I am standing behind a desk asking you a bunch of personal questions.”
He didn’t have a response to that.
Honestly, I think the real answer to that question is “it’s a Southern thing”. No one called me ma’am when I lived in DC. When a New Jerseyite worked at the Paint Desk, he asked me why everyone called the guy in Appliances Mr. Blessing. “I thought it was his first name!”
“It is,” I had said. “It’s a Southern thing. A term of respect.”
That answer didn’t satisfy him, and truth be told, it doesn’t satisfy me either. I’ve noticed that different names get different levels of respect. Steve and Thomas in Electrical are both equally respected by fellow associates, by only Thomas gets called Mister. Part of it, maybe, is the rhythm of their names. Mr. Thomas and Mr. Blessing flows off the tongue better than Mr. Steve or Mr. James. Maybe it’s also the Baptist tradition, you know, how Baptists refer to each other as Brother and Sister because we’re all children of Christ or something like that? Or maybe it’s, you know, the slave thing.
Most Northerners really encounter such denominations in old books, like Pride and Prejudice. It’s weird that most people only encounter Pride and Prejudice on these things, because the Bennets are shown specifically avoiding that stuff (which is how all the outsiders to Merrifield know that they’re classless hooligans). In Pride and Prejudice, all the daughters are “out” (able to go out in society and meet men). Usually there was a very specific pattern to all this. Take my family.
Typically, only one daughter is allowed “out” at a time — the eldest. She is referred to by her last name. The other daughters, since they are still basically children in the household, are referred to by their given names.
But then the eldest daughter gets married.
A highly accomplished half-Jew marries a Roman Catholic, who knew? Anyway, the fact that Lacey and I are twins complicates things a bit. Even though we were born AT THE SAME TIME, I AM STILL CONSIDERED THE YOUNGEST, and have also always been considered sickly. So it’s possible my parents wouldn’t have let me “out”, or perhaps would have had me wait a few extra years.
Or perhaps they wouldn’t have, considering that we are only separated by a minute.
And so I married, leaving just the one Miss Hancher.
I helped a woman with some blinds today. I helped her pick them out, and then cut them down to size. She kept commenting on how nice I was and how helpful I was being. I would simply say thank you.
As I was cutting the blinds, she told me about how she was just in town to help her sister move. Her sister had moved into a new house and was too busy to do the unpacking and settling in herself. So she had come from California to do it for her. I commented that that was very nice of her.
“Do you know Miami Boulevard?” the woman asked. “Do you ever drive down there?”
I said that I do. I actually haven’t driven down Miami Boulevard in several months, not since we moved to the townhouse, but I have driven down that road. That seemed like an unnecessary detail, so I just said that I drive down Miami Boulevard.
“You know the psychic on that road, right?”
I actually have never noticed a psychic on Miami Boulevard, but I said that I had.
“That’s my sister,” the woman said, proudly. “You’re so nice. She can help you with your issue. You know the one. I can get you a special rate, since you’re so nice and helpful. Would you like to meet her?”
I actually ran through a list in my head of all the issues I deal with — my depression, my career, my social isolation, my schedule, my marriage, writer’s block — before I realized that she was playing me. She was networking for her sister. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to go to a psychic. The fact that we have therapists indicate how helpful it is to have a third party to talk with. But psychics are an unregulated industry, use chicanery to do their work, and have been known to abuse their positions. I’m sure most psychics are very nice. I’ve been to a psychic once, at the Renaissance Festival, for the novelty of it. She was very nice and did not take advantage of me at all. But it was clearly just a cold reading facilitated by some props. So no. I was not interested in visiting her sister.
“Sure,” I said.
Saying no seemed to be rude. Anyway, I could take the number and then just never call her.
After she left, I went to go see if there were any returns in the returns bin. I spotted Don, one of the paint guys, standing by himself. I walked up to him.
“Do you believe in psychics?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said.
I looked at him in surprise.
He told me that when he had been stationed in Hawaii, he had visited a psychic. He had been surprised at how much she knew and how much she figured out. “She knew I was a pilot,” he said.
I could imagine that hadn’t been hard to guess.
“She said I would go to school on the East Coast, which — I didn’t know any schools on the East Coast! She said I would go to Florida. I said that I had family in Florida so of course I would go to Florida. She said I wouldn’t go because of family. And she said that I would have one child, which, for reasons, I didn’t think would happen. I visited her twice. I went a third time, but her house had burned down and she was taking care of that. When I was stationed in Alabama, we had to go to Florida after a hurricane and help clean up. I was there for forty days. Afterwards I tried to apply to be an instructional pilot. I was turned down for that, but they offered to train me to be a maintenance test pilot — on the East Coast! And then afterwards my wife said that she was pregnant! Are you going to be able to cover my lunch?”
That seemed like an awful lot to try to disprove. So I simply accepted it. Andrew, another paint guy, approached. I asked if he believed in psychics. He said no. I explained to them both about what happened with the woman in blinds. Then I went and took care of returns (we had lots of returns).
Speaking of writer’s block, I have it. There’s two projects that I’m working on right now. One is the fairy tale story. The problem is that right now I’m working on a very plot-point heavy section. The protagonist/future princess/whatever is three years old and very sick. So her mother has summoned her cousin, the court physician, to cure her. He’s going to do some bloodletting, drop in the knowledge that Prince Orson is missing, and then inform Martha, the kindly governess, how she can get in contact with the local witch coven.
At long last the physicker arrived, after dark, when most of the household had gone to bed. The footmen sent a pageboy to the butler, who arrived in the foyer within minutes, straightening his tie and giving a formal greeting. He and the page escorted the physicker to the sickroom.
Dawn, Martha, and the staff were preparing the room for the night when the door swung open, and the physicker stepped into the room. His wax-lined cape shuddered around him, swing flatly from side to side. He wore leather gloves and black clothing, and peered down at the women behind his glasses. Did he have a big nose or was it just the angle?
He was also shockingly young, hardly older than Dawn. Everyone was starting to look young to Martha’s eyes, but he looked really young.
Martha shooed the servants from the room. The visit was a private matter.
Dawn stood up and curtsied before him. “Paul,” she said. “Thank goodness you’ve arrived. How was your trip?”
“I cannot stay,” he said.
“Have you come straight from court?”
“I cannot say no to you,” said the physicker. “But the timing is inconvenient. The queen is ill.”
Dawn glanced at Martha, who was already shutting the door firmly. Martha’s mind was racing.
“Hysterics,” said the physicker. “The prince has gone missing.”
Martha eyed the boy. She wouldn’t be trusting him with any secrets anytime soon.
Martha allowed herself to turn her head. Dawn was sitting on the bed, holding Lily’s hand. The physicker had not moved. Dawn glanced at Martha, then lifted up her daughter’s hand.
“She still has a fever, even after three days.”
The physicker finally approached Lily. He knelt down by the bed and took Lily’s hand from Dawn. He lifted up her arm and poked her armpit. Lily squirmed. Martha stepped closer to the bed. Lily was probably going to wake back up and try to get out of bed again.
The physicker tapped along Lily’s neck, then tapped down her chest and to her bellybutton.
“How has her breathing been?”
“She has coughing fits, but then she’s fine.”
He leaned his head over and placed it on Lily’s chest. He waited for a few breaths, then lifted his head back up. Lily squirmed again. The physicker reached over and lifted one of her eyelids. He peered into her eyes. He let go, but Lily blinked and stared at him. The physicker didn’t seem to notice; he reached a gloved hand into her mouth and pried it open. Lily looked up at Dawn, at Martha, at Dawn, and Martha again.
“She’s hot and wet,” said the physicker.
Lily squirmed, trying to sit up. She coughed.
“It’s an imbalance,” said the physicker. “Too much yellow bile and phlegm, and it’s all trying to get out. This is a good start,” he gestured at the fire. “What have you been feeding her?”
“Broth,” said Martha.
The physicker turned and gave her a once-over. “Is this the nurse?”
“Martha is Lily’s governess,” said Dawn. “I nursed Lily myself.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” said the physicker. “Nursing is hard on gentle ladies. You would have been better off entrusting her to the milk of a physical creature.”
“Is that why she’s sick?”
“No, she’s imbalanced. All this sweat, this coughing, she’s trying to get the phlegm out of her. And this heat! You,” he looked at Martha. “Send for some bread and salt.”
Martha looked at Dawn, but Dawn was looking at Lily. She sucked in her breath and turned back towards the door.
“We might have to bleed her, she’s so hot.”
It was the first sensible thing the man had said. Martha went to the door and opened it. As expected, three servant girls were clustered by the door, listening in.
“I suppose you heard everything?”
Their eyes wide, they said nothing.
“You heard nothing, yes?”
“Good. Go get some bread. Or cookies. And some salt. Bring them here.”
The physicker had managed to convince Dawn by the time the servant girls returned with a half-loaf of bread and a bowl of salt. The physician took the bread. The bread had been made in the morning. The crust was hard, but his poke could still dent it.
“Excellent,” he said.
…aaaand now what. I have to write a sequence where a three year old gets cut open and bled, and write it as if it’s a good thing. And then roll right into more plot development. Ugh.
The other project, a modern adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, is still in its development stages. I am honestly completely stuck on how to update the Starkadders. Flora and her friends are so obviously hipsters. But the Starkadders? They’re supposed to make fun of trends popular in literature of the turn of the century.
At first I thought it was just Judith Starkadder who was difficult to deal with. She’s obsessed with her son Seth. This is conveyed very well in the writing, but I have yet to see an adaptation that makes her feelings for Seth obvious. Seth is described constantly as manly (literally, he walks around in a masculine way, the curve of his neck is masculine, etc). He is described as unbuttoning his shirt constantly.
His conversation with his mother is punctuated by the porridge boiling over. It’s hilarious. But how to convey all that on stage? So I thought, well, there’s the modern-day problem of helicopter parents. So maybe she’s a helicopter parent? But no, helicopter parents want their children to go out into the world and succeed (thanks to Mom and Dad). That wouldn’t work in the cloistered world of Cold Comfort Farm.
I then started thinking about the other Starkadder son, Reuben. At first he has a one-sided antagonistic relationship with Flora, thinking that she’s here to take the farm from him. Once he’s convinced that she won’t take the farm, he becomes her ally. Then, randomly, he proposes to her. She turns him down. He continues his lunch. It’s out of nowhere in the book, and it’s supposed to be out of nowhere. I was driving home a few days ago and suddenly thought that maybe Reuben was written in imitation of some romance books where the girl goes to the farm and the guy is antagonistic with her, and then in the end they get married because Belligerent Sexual Tension?
How many tropes am I missing because I haven’t read most of the books Cold Comfort Farm is making fun of? Do I have to go on a classic novel binge in order to really, truly understand Cold Comfort Farm? Why is this such a difficult project?
Home Depot will take anyone that is willing to smile and ask follow-up questions. They can tell you what the right follow-up questions are. They can teach you the keywords to listen for in the customer’s response. They can tell you to put a smile on your face. But they can’t tell you how to get that smile on your face. No, that has to come from you.
So people who work at Home Depot are pretty friendly, chatty folks. Everyone is always happy to see you. It takes some getting used to when you find out just how friendly everyone is. When people you don’t know greet you by name and ask how you’ve been, stopping and chatting with you, it’s weird the first time. After a while you just roll with it. There’s a lot less griping amongst Home Depot employees, from what I can tell. Sure, we all have Stupid Customer stories and complaints about idiotic policies from Corporate — but none of us really complain about our jobs.
This is a consistent rule of thumb for everyone except the people in Lumber.
Now that is really only true at the Durham store where I work currently. At the Fairfax City store, all the Lumber people were hard-working and friendly, if annoyed at the chronic understaffing of their department. But at Durham, that’s where they stick the young, able-bodied men for whom this is a first job or nearly a first job. They’re here to pick things up and put them down, and they know it, and disappear for hours at a time.
Admittedly it’s usually hard to track down people working in Plumbing or Electrical as well. Electrical is understaffed, and all the Plumbing associates are either running trucks in other parts of the store or hiding in the breakroom, ignoring their phones and resenting us for being young and energetic. But once you have them, they give you great service. And admittedly there are folks in lumber who are full of the Home Depot energy, but Khiry is usually working trucks in another part of the store too.
About two weeks ago I was wandering around in Lumber. It was slow at Flooring, so I was looking for wood for my dollhouse. I suppose I could have been doing something more productive, but I was excited about this new project.
A woman approached me, carrying a large stack of Composition notebooks. She had heard from a fellow teacher that we could cut these notebooks in half, thereby halving the amount of money she had to spend on notebooks for her kindergarteners. I did the only thing I could do, and did a general page for someone in lumber to meet us at the saw. I kept the customer occupied by asking questions about preparing for the school year until someone finally showed up.
It was a guy I hadn’t really met, although I had seen him around. He’s ageless, but not in a good way; he could be an ugly 20 or a young 40. No matter what time of day it is, he always seems covered in a layer of dirt. I feel like I’m being unnecessarily cruel. Something about him seems off, is my point.
He announced his presence by stepping in the middle of the two of us. He smiled at me. “What do you need?” he asked.
I gestured at the customer and said that she wanted notebooks cut in half, and she had heard that we could do it.
He was still smiling at me. “We don’t cut notebooks,” he said. He still hadn’t looked at the customer.
The customer began rattling off all the teachers she had heard who swore up and down that they had had notebooks cut at Home Depot, that it even said on the internet, and if they were cut in half she could use one half for math and one half for writing practice. Meanwhile, he was still looking at me.
I gestured at the customer again and said that surely we could try it. What could it hurt?
The conversation continued for a few minutes; he barely glanced at the customer except to look at the notebooks. He directed all his comments at me. I gestured frequently to the customer, trying to get him to look that way.
Finally he sighed, took the notebooks, and walked it over to the table saw. He cut them in batches while I kept up the conversation with the customer. I worked it smoothly into the conversation that, you know, I have experience as a Teacher’s Aide if one was ever needed and she said that I should have applied, they had had trouble filling TA positions. (by the way I applied to a whole bunch of TA jobs in Wake County today)
The cuts went perfectly. There wasn’t even slivers around the edges. The customer left, satisfied. As soon as she was gone, the lumber associate rounded to me, smiling. All I could think of was getting back to Flooring, to where my job was, away from him. He started telling me why he wasn’t in lumber when I made the initial page. I started walking towards the middle aisle. He sauntered along next to me. I was walking quickly, but he’s tall enough that a saunter could match my brisk pace. He asked me how I like Home Depot and Flooring and I gave neutral answers. When we got to the aisle I prayed silently that he wasn’t going to walk me all the way back to Flooring. Instead, he gave me a formal good-bye and walked away.
I mentioned the whole conversation to James. He said that I should report it to management. I said that he technically hadn’t done anything wrong. He was just sort of creepy.
Today I was working in the Blinds aisle, which for some reason is in the Flooring department. I was pulling boxes down from the overhead and filling up shelves with blinds. The Blinds aisle is right next to the breakroom, and as this lumber associate was leaving the breakroom, he saw me and started walking up the Blinds aisle. He said hi and I said hi. He asked how I was and I said fine, how are you?
He forced the conversation to continue, asking me about my night and how late I was working. Lots of people exit the breakroom and walk through the Blinds aisle. They also greeted me and asked how I was doing. But none of them stayed. Those conversations were conducted in Doppler. This conversation was a radio tower.
I turned my back on him and worked. I kept my answers neutral and as brief as possible. I didn’t want to have a conversation with him. I hate the way he looks at me. I thought, get the hint and walk away. Get the hint and walk away. Finally he left to go back to work.
On one of my days off last week, I visited Lowes to pick up dollhouse supplies (because I am shameless and would rather drive five minutes than twenty-five just for brand loyalty’s sake). Since it’s hot down here, I was wearing a short sundress. I had recently showered, so my hair was at its curliest. I had shaved my legs and armpits that morning. And I was wearing makeup. In short, I was as cute as I could be. And I was walking around the lumber aisles of Lowes. Lots of guys did double-takes.
I mentioned this to James that evening.
“Ah,” he said. “That must be good for some ego boosting.”
I thought about it. Finally I said, “No. No it didn’t really boost my ego at all.”