Out of My Element

They know me at Lowe’s. I can tell by the whispers. I’m the woman the gray-haired clerk pointed to when he yelled, “Lady here says she looking for a long screw. Can somebody help her?” Two male clerks appeared from other aisles to size me up. At that moment, I envied all tunneling animals.

One fellow chuckled and led me to a wall of tiny drawers labeled by type and precise size of screw. A wall of them. I stammered about the boards on the dock popping up as I handed over the rusted screw I was trying to replace. Perhaps my husband had too much faith in my determination. It must be like this for foreigners at a grocery, trying to locate canned goods by pictures on labels. Handing the sample screw to the clerk was the white flag waving on the enemy line, the sign of surrender. Shoot me or take me prisoner, but I’ve had enough. Let’s end this one way or the other. It took the fellow seconds to find the exact match of the flat-head 1 ¾ inch metal screw amid the wall of choices. That merciful, albeit smirking, man saved me hours of searching.

The next week I was running in heels after a clerk in the carpentry section. All I wanted was to hang a neat level row of framed photos in my daughter’s room. When I breathlessly asked for a stud finder the clerk hiked up his tool belt and asked what kind of stud I was searching for. Wink. Wink.

After those experiences I refused future errands for any hardware items. If hubby needs something that isn’t sold at the grocery or at the department store or at a Wal*Mart, then forget it. Call it a division of labor. I told him I would go to the hardware store the day after he goes to the grocery to buy me any feminine hygiene product. He hasn’t asked me since.