Home Sweet Home Depot


Despite the bargains, despite the incredible you-need-it-we-got-it laden shelves, despite the little promotions with the motto “My Toy Store,” I have yet to meet anyone who really likes contending with the Home Depot hardwarehouse. Yes, you can go there with a list that includes everything from bungee cords to bundled lumber to bathtubs to terra-cotta rabbits, but before you leave with your list ticked off and change in your wallet you have to go through an experience that is somewhere in between swarming a cactus and screwing a moose. It never gets any better.

For a while it was the life-in-your-hands sensation connected with having a semi-oblivious Depotante cruising up the aisle behind you on a beeping forklift. Someone got the idea this was putting people off and it stopped happening. Then you couldn’t find help when you needed to ask a question, to the point the term “pumpkin patch” entered the corporate vernacular, denoting a huddle of orange-aproned Home Depot sales assistants hiding from customers in a remote corner of the store.  Now we seem to have embarked on a New Era Of Customer Relations, and you can’t walk in the place without being accosted and mugged with solicitude. Have you found everything you wanted? Do you know about the benefits of our credit card? They wear repellent little green-lettered badges asking “Are we a 10 in customer assistance today?” Gaah.

I was trying to buy two gallons of paint, some light bulbs, and a few other odds and ends and found myself desperately fending off a middle-aged gentleman with an earnest, exophthalmic and disturbingly blinkless gaze, who started out thinking I was a contractor (I think it was my oh-so-butch Duluth Workwear cell phone holster) and wanted to sign me up for a commercial account. I explained I was not but he really wanted to be my friend and continued enumerating the Benefits Of A Commercial Account until I shoved up my sleeve and pantomimed shock, saying I needed to meet my house painter in half an hour. Nothing of the sort was the case but I had to get away before he made me an offer of marriage. This was easier said than done because the place is a horrendous maze of towering shelves and no sight-lines, and every time you think you are at the aisle you want you find yourself back at the same disturbing eye-level display of low-flush toilets.

I was all the way home before I remembered I wanted some glue. I think I’ll go to the five and dime. One of the surviving twelve or twenty in the entire nation (I sometimes think) is a few miles away and sometimes I just go there to look at a store that is small enough for me to wrap my head around.

It could have been worse. The last time something like this happened was when I bought a new front door in 2003 and the Home Depot door guy took my business card after describing the pains in his neck. A couple of weeks later he sent me an e-mail, not inquiring about appointment times but telling me his dog’s newest favorite joke (he was very specific that it came from the dog) and asking if there would be a good time to come around and see my new door. I didn’t answer. I don’t like dogs.


13 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home Depot

  1. This is why I don’t go shopping. I have a significant other for that. Besides, if I need paint I go to Crow’s Paint and Glass, which is a full service paint and wallpaper emporium of the Pop and Pop variety. If I need lightbulbs I get them off the internet and have them shipped to me. Lumber used to come from Meeks until they started stocking only really crappy stuff, now we get that at Lowe’s. I’m thinking that Lowe’s is sort of a Home Depot without the steroids.

    I get my glue at the craft store.

    • Hm, thanks for the idea. Though the local craft store (located conveniently on the level of the mall above the Home Depot) is almost an identical experience — chaos, no sight lines and a long queue. You can’t beat their price on a bagua mirror though.

  2. That last paragraph makes me feel significantly better about my own experiences with Men Who Are Nuts. 🙂

    And if its any consolation (of course its not), the ‘Bunnings Warehouse’ and ‘B&Q’ of Australia and the UK respectively are exactly the same. Every time I enter one, I expect to meet Dante, endlessly circling…

  3. HD works for me. So does Lowe’s, the other big-box around here. I don’t know why that is. Real hardware stores are often better for certain things. But I enjoy the big places, and browsing electrical boxes as if it were the History section at Barnes & Noble, and wondering who really needs a goddam tractor to mow half an acre of lawn.

    Oh I know why. I always walk in swiftly and immediately know where I’m going. Even if I don’t, I act like I do. It’s those old street-smarts: Walk swift and sure, and they will leave you alone.

    I liked “Depotante” also.

  4. Lowes is the big box here. Usually I get very good service, if not perfect service from this store. For some tools and equipment, the farm store is the better alternative.

  5. Yes we have a similar store here in the UK, mainly DIY related products, oddly they wear orange aswell. I must say though it does tend to be that way in a lot of american stores, it seems it’s the american way of over-selling.

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