The Hardware Store

Today’s topic was suggested to me by Tim Lewis. I see him quite often at his workplace, Hardware Hank, because I really like hardware stores. I have vacationed, one hour at a time, at hardware stores for years and Tim has been there much of the time. Anyway, this week I wish to speak of my field of dreams, the hardware store.

First off, you will find nothing of any education in this story. I am no expert in the use of tools and I rarely do any projects that require a great deal of finish. I am “joe ratchet wrench” like anyone else but seek to get better through my attendance at Hardware University. Most times, I have a problem and can guess at how a tool would appear that could solve my problem. Other times I just ask, however I find the search is part of the education and the fun. Hardware stores are just that, fun. Gleaming chrome wrenches, things that run on 240 volt electricity or diesel fuel (or both,) plus an endless assortment of brass pipe fittings flesh out a checklist for time well spent. I also find the hardware store infinitely relaxing. I can get lost in aisles stocked with answers to the questions with which I am troubled. I even enjoy returning stuff I don’t use. It’s so much fun to see what the difference between the return and your new purchase equals.

I think I enjoy the electrical department best when I visit a hardware store. You can quickly make your home look nicer, be safer and more convenient with switches and lights. When you arrive at our home, there are a series of motion lights that follow your every move until you reach the front door. I just added two such lights yesterday which I picked up at (all together now,) the hardware store. Plumbing is also a great joy as I like to catch and re-use rainwater. The nice thing about plumbing fixtures is that even if a project doesn’t work out, you can easily take your fittings apart and use them on your next unsuccessful idea. I have a hope chest full of such orphaned parts awaiting an opportunity to be part of something.

Most hardware stores include a rental department. Floor sanders, log splitters, air wrenches, leaf shredders and pole saws are the magic wands that make rank amateurs into domestic titans. I truly believe that at least half of the difference between the poor or decent completion of most tasks lies in the choice of tool. I work by myself almost exclusively so if one hand can steady and level while the other directs a rented power tool, then I can do the work of two one-handed men.

There stands a handyman for whom hope and confidence are a given and the tools that ensure these emotions hang from a garage wall. For everyone else, there is the hardware store. It is the hardware store that holds the tools and knowledge that make men the husbands their wives say we are. Tim Lewis has helped me through many projects and this week he went beyond and helped me with a subject for my column. Tim, I am going to lean on you one more time this week; if people don’t like this week’s column, I’m sending them to you for their money back.

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