This time of year is not all that bad. So long as the temperature stays in the mid 60s, I am plenty happy. The warm weather allowed me to walk around the center of my small town. My car safely parked in the municipal lot, I went from store to store, shopping some for work and some for me. I meandered my way along the sidewalk hitting the pharmacy, the bank, looking into the window of the small restaurant, and finally ending at the hardware store.
I have a special affinity for hardware stores, especially those of the local variety. I checked the sale table that I drove by many times on my way to get gas . While lingering there and looking at the miniature sidewalk sale, I heard two employees of the store yelling back and forth with each other over something silly regarding the incoming storm named Sandy, a hurricane wrapped in a nor’easter. I examine the paper clips closely, as I hear the men inside. I decide I do not need them. Free from work is even better than the price listed.
As with any shopping, I know what I want before I enter the store. This time I need picture hanging hooks. They must be ooks(TM) hooks or I’ll have to head to another hardware store. The place is packed with lots of goodies. An aisle of paint color panels, another filled with sink and plumbing accessories, still another with cleaning fluids. I stop midway, looking around, taking the store in, smelling the cleaning fluids and the galvanized metal. I love all the little baubles, screws, nails, and the fact that they are all packed tightly into this one room. Each of them serve a purpose in each of our tiny universes. Each stand strong ready to help us with our small, daily irritations.
I see the picture hanging hooks. At first I am concerned, the boxes upon boxes are pink, red, not the blue and yellow of the ooks hooks packaging that I am familiar with. I walk down the aisle a bit only to find gromets, large screws, and washers. I come back to the hook section, reluctant, acknowledging that I may have to go to another store. Then I see them. All of a sudden they present themselves, as if out of thin air. They don’t look like the ones I buy at the big box craft store, but I know the brand is reliable and the industry standard. I remove the hooks from their perch. Next, I check out the wire and the various gauges. I choose the one that I feel is best, silently wishing to myself that it was galvanized. As an archivist, I know how quickly the wire degrades, after decades and even centuries. I think about my days working for a marine supply company and all I learned from indexing and inventorying Crosby(TM) metal fasteners and other products. It is nice to know I can learn from any job I take, no matter how menial. I am one of those people that can become interested in just about anything, so long as it is in front of me for long enough. And by long enough, I mean a few seconds.
Holding what I came in for, I head over to the cash register, but not before I stop to see if they have a metal hair catcher for my tub drain. Another wonderous aisle full of items I never would have imagined existed. I see a garbage disposal drain catcher and marvel at the ingenuity, as well as, question its need for existence. Smiling, I go to the register to make my purchases.
The store owner is kind, and his fellow co-workers are still loud and chatty. Perfect. The bravado and misinformation about the severity of the storm circulates around all those standing at the front of the store. We all have our own opinions. They are all welcome here at this bar without alcohol, where we buy what we need, and enjoy companionship with others who enjoy understanding the way things work.