Some folks will tell you that Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man. Most of these folks work for the advertising agency that creates the feel-good commercials for customers to watch. If you're sitting on the couch on a hypothetical Saturday afternoon and that dripping faucet in the back bathroom has you thinking, "Well how hard could it be?" Especially if you have that guy at Ace to steer you in the right direction. Of course, this being the twenty-third year of a new millennium, they aren't just helpful hardware men as much as a group of helpful hardware folks. Which should make you feel even better about being supported in your do-it-yourself tasks.
Because calling a plumber just isn't the thing that we are all encouraged to do these days. Or, in my case, a locksmith. My wife has been interested for some time in getting a keyless deadbolt for our front door. Part of this comes from an interest in being on the cutting edge of technology and home security. Another part of this idea stemmed from a predilection for not always being able to produce a front door key when the moment comes to open said front door.
Did we go to Ace Hardware to make our purchase?
No. We did not.
We went to Home Depot. We waited for an epoch or two for someone with an orange apron to come and unlock the cage where the device we needed was kept. Then we wandered up to the cash register, where the person in the orange apron carried the deadbolt and deposited on a table for us "to pick up when we were ready." We were ready, so seconds after he had oh-so-carefully placed our pending purchase on that tiny table up front, we picked it up, paid for it, and rushed home. Too tired from all that commerce, I decided to put off the installation until the next morning.
The next morning turned into the next afternoon. I opened up the box. I took all the parts out. I read the directions carefully. I took out the old lock and painstakingly put the new one in its place. Everything worked until that moment when the code was supposed to make the bolt slide back and forth. It did that once, then made a clicking sound and refused to do my bidding. I took it apart. I put it back together again. I did this three separate times. Same result. I took it back apart, put the pieces in the box from whence it came, and hustled it back to the customer service desk at Home Depot. Only after a wait for someone to process the return.
Then I hiked to the back of the store, to where the locks were kept, ironically enough, under lock and key. After several near-misses, I interrupted an orange apron's phone call just long enough to make sure he knew that I could use some assistance. When at last it was my turn for thirty seconds of his attention, I asked him why he figured the lock I had purchased just the day before was not cooperating. "Did you put fresh batteries in it?" He wondered. When I answered "brand new," he shrugged his shoulders and suggested I spend sixty dollars more to get "a really good one."
On the way home, with the replacement in the passenger seat, I thought about McGuckin's Hardware. The hardware store I grew up with. The folks there wore green vests. They all knew their stuff, and if they didn't, they would find someone who did. They got my dad through his share of tough spots as a homeowner, and my older brother has helped keep them in business over the years by asking for advice along with his washers and wire snips.
I was eventually able to make the door lock work. My wife was pleased. I was relieved. And I couldn't get that stupid jingle out of my head.