December 22nd, 2015


nobody knows where to find anything in hardware stores

Last week I went to menard's to buy some craft wood to cut in the laser cutter at makeict and it was pretty much like every hardware store adventure where I spend 10 seconds buying something, 20 minutes looking for it. Why isn't there an electronic aisle search yet? Or at least a search employees can access quickly? Of all the stores to make into mega big box stores, hardware stores were the worst. They have a million items in two million categories - it's not like grocery stores where you can group foods into "baking" and "pasta". Hardware stores are anybody's guess.

So I find some kid who works there and ask where's the balsa wood, because that's the simplest craft wood everybody knows about (I'm not going to be a confusing a-hole and ask about beech veneer plywood). He is stumped. "How thick do you need it?"

That's what I love about hardware help... irrelevant question land. As if they have different thicknesses of balsa wood in different sections. People don't make livingroom tables with this stuff, dude.

My favorite ever story about this was a few years ago when I went to a hardware store looking for magnets, preferably hook magnets, but basically just magnets. The store clerk said, "Let's see... you're wanting it to stick to... something metal?"

No, I said. A tree.

So anyway back to this week... poor kid is dumbfounded about balsa wood. So I said, "Sometimes it's by the dowel rods."

He just said "Sometimes."

As in, just you sit back, I know many things that you do not! He didn't. We're wandering aisles with no direction at all. I feel like I'm following the Israelites in the desert.

Finally he walked past the registers and found a coworker who actually knew what balsa wood was and the guy said, "It's by the dowel rods."


Of course the kid says, "And dowel rods are in aisle... " yeah.

43, says the guy who does know something, thank goodness. We found dowel rods together, sure enough the craft wood was right there, and I got what I needed somehow by chance.

Just once I'd like to have a store clerk say, "I honestly don't know where that is but we can ask!" or "Hey spacefem, you were right!" or "I won't waste your time by asking stalling, irrelavent questions in hopes that a light bulb goes off, I will make practical suggestions!"

Whatever, hardware store people, anything.