If Disney World is the happiest place on earth, then, aside from funeral homes, Home depot would have to be its polar opposite. I’ve never been a big fan of hardware stores, when I was younger because the smell of wood and sawdust gave me headaches, and more recently in life because every time I go to one, I’m reminded of how inadequate I am. The stereotype for males, is that we’re all handy, that we love working on projects around the house or doing yard work, illustrated perfectly and hilariously by Tim Allen’s character in his television show, Home Improvement, but for me, that couldn’t be further from reality. Maybe it’s because I remember mowing the lawn when I was growing up, my stepdad following me around the yard and yelling at me for not doing it good enough, or maybe it’s because I’m completely useless when it comes to reading instructions on how to put things together, like the bookshelves my wife and I bought last year, that she assembled, no thanks to me, but whatever the reason, I find hardware stores and the activities that follow making purchases there, completely dull and uninteresting.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to have the skills to perform handyman work around the house. It would certainly make things a lot easier, especially down the road when I buy a house for my own and can’t depend upon the inadequate apartment maintenance company to come around days or weeks after the request is made to fix or repair whatever the latest problem is. There are outlets in my living room and bedroom that still don’t work a year and a half since we moved in last July, so it would be great to be able to rectify this problem on my own, but again I lack the drive and determination to learn these skills, so I get by plugging to many chords into a single outlet, and hope it doesn’t cause a fire. So far, so good. Anyway, given my disinterest in stores like the Home Depot, it was rather unfortunate that I found myself there earlier this afternoon. It was my wife’s idea, because we needed to get some weather stripping to line the door of our apartment to keep the cold air from rushing in, which feels like an air conditioner tuned on at full blast coming through the cracks in its current state. I would’ve rather taken my chances at freezing to death, but there was my wife and dogs to think about, so I agreed to accompany her to the hardware store, for the sake of survival.
As soon as we walked through the sliding doors into the store, the depression hit me like a giant weight dropped directly into my stomach. If I wasn’t so used to the near crippling weight of depression, I might have assumed the feeling in my stomach was a direct result of the lunch we’d just finished eating at Chili’s, but I knew better. We walked around aimlessly, none of the signs at the tops of the aisles mentioning anything about weather stripping, feeling like we’d been dropped into the middle of the forest on the first day of boy scouts tasked with the mission of having to find our way back to civilization using only the moss growing on the trees and the position of the sun in the sky. After about fifteen minutes of this nonsense, my wife remembered she could look it up online and it would tell her the aisle number, so she did and we were directed to aisle fourteen. I don’t know how people survived before the internet. We found the aisle, but unfortunately they were out of the product that we were looking for. This is solely based on what my wife told me, because honestly I had no idea what specifically we were looking for, and I still don’t.
We walked around the store for twenty or so more minutes, my wife all of a sudden remembering things that we needed, like a drain plug for the bathtub and strong adhesives, like gorilla glue, an aisle we visited on more than one occasion to look at that item. She finally decided on one, for what purpose, I don’t know, but perhaps to shut me up so she could finish her shopping in peace. I followed behind her to the self checkout, realizing with a sigh of relief that at least for the moment, the glue wouldn’t be used on me. As we left the store, not having found what we had originally been looking for, but with something that wasn’t even on the list, I felt that weight being lifted from me as we stepped out into the parking lot and the cold January air hit me in the face. I had survived the unhappiest place on earth, and I couldn’t have been happier.