Day at a Store

Day 148 Week 21 Q2 Monday, May 29, 2023

In the larger scheme of things, the big project you were working on has gotten to the point where you have determined that you need some more equipment. You have determined this by attempting to do some things by hand, which would be for better done, assisted by tools. In this particular case, instead of using your body to do backbreaking work, you could buy some power tools and carefully learn how to use them to stop breaking your back.

So, in modern 21st-century fashion, you get online to do a bunch of research, determine exactly what tools you need, read all the reviews, read all the articles, watch all the videos, and then begin to sit around to determine where you can get watt, and for what price and most efficiently. And even if you go online to the website of the store where you intend to make your purchases because you want to do the project now, not after Amazon delivers, and even if you follow all the rules, make your purchases set up an account, take into your awareness, all of the trade-offs and execute marvelously, when you get to the store and start to deal with real human beings and real equipment, and the rest of reality, it may become clearer that your entirely well organized, rational and comprehensive approach is clearly not going to work.

Let me tell of one such example and how it had a silver lining outcome.  I don’t even need to change the names of people to protect the innocent because, actually, they’re innocent. What was the job that we were engaging in?  A 30-year-old pair of decks hanging on the outside of our house needed to be replaced because the weather in New England is tougher than pressure-treated wood when it comes to mother nature. Apart from changing from pressure-treated wood to synthetic composite wood, which is actually quite nice, quite expensive and also lasts for 50 years, some other aspects have to do with coming up with new learning curves, which is always exciting, as is getting exciting new tools.

Allow me to explain what felt like an entire day at the store but was only two hours, but these two hours had a day’s worth of confusion, frustration, opportunity and general excitement. I spent the second half of a Saturday and the first half of a Sunday determining exactly what was needed. When Sunday mid-day, I marched through the front doors of the huge big box store with my printed-out paperwork and digital records in my phone of all of the purchases and transaction numbers to march up to the service desk where I met Dianne, who, then, had to call Jack, to try then to find Joe, and ultimately sent me to find Pete, where we found the ordered things did not exist in the store, even though I had a message to come by and pick them up.

It turns out some of the things I had painstakingly researched, ordered and gotten confirmation about did not exactly exist at the store and would be shipped to my house in two weeks, except the project had to commence in two hours, not in two weeks. So alternative equipment decisions had to be made, as everyone in the store told me my many improvised combinations of solutions couldn’t be done, as these things were not available. One guy, Pete, who shuffled along with his weight, seemingly more supported by the shopping cart he was pushing than his legs, who clearly did know a lot, educated me about other things that I needed to know to have a good outcome on this project. I pushed my cart out to the parking lot, where I loaded up my car with nearly $1000 worth of tools and supplies and then decided to come back into the store just to do one more walk-through to see if perhaps I could find what I had originally been looking for even though everyone assured me that it wasn’t there, and did not exist, after they looked in the cages where the gear was locked away, scratched their heads, and oh did I mention this was Memorial Day Weekend with a large sale going on. And here’s where some opportunistic decisions were made.

Well, it turns out I did not understand exactly what I needed to do the job because although I had read articles and watched videos and talked to friends. I did not have the same level of woodworking experience as that guy in the store named Pete, who got me straightened out in terms of reality and what I needed, but which still was not there at the store.

On my last ditch walk-through after already having spent the money and loaded the car. And after all of the documents for returns and purchases, and changes were emailed and printed. I discovered a superior alternative to what the website had, what the store personnel thought they had, and what I thought I needed. And I discovered it, not in the right place in the store, locked in a cage with other valuable tools, but under a shelf on the floor, uncaged, if you will, but with some sort of protective beeper affixed to the tools and accessories bundle I needed, which had been assembled into a kit, not on the website or in the minds of the people that worked in the store. By then I had spoken to seven or eight individuals, half of whom were already overwhelmed because it was a three-day holiday weekend with a major sale going on.

Being addicted to steep new learning curves, I wasn’t really in a rush. There is no point in being in a rush on a holiday weekend during a sale in a store full of people, who all wanted to get to the front of the line by driving the employees who work there absolutely crazy.  I decided not to be a native New Yorker, even though I am one. Even though not in New York City, I was in New York State, which is, to one degree or another, contaminated by people from New York City, especially on holiday weekend sales. I decided to pull the 180 of being extremely polite, grateful, acknowledging and excepting of all of the people in the store and everything they were trying to do. I told them, I was not in a rush, so take your time, take a deep breath, and you get the idea. I was different from those they had dealt with during harrowing situations.

The net result of not being in a rush, not being pushy, and not being overly attached to sticking to my original painstakingly researched clearly not entirely informed perfect plan by my standards was excellent. I ended up with better stuff, for a better price, at a different place in the learning curve, and with a far higher likelihood of success, to complete the project.

The old me would’ve been more full of myself, less flexible, and more aggressive and would not have gotten such a wonderful outcome. If you are a creative outlier, addicted to learning curves, as I am and in a rush to work on the projects you have in your mind there are alternative ways to act. Simply seeing, acknowledging and respecting the people you are dealing with may feel like it’s costing you time, maybe even a lot of time. But the entire time in the store for this process was under two hours. Considering this project had been considered for three years, two hours was not going to matter much. The relationships between all these people, who I may never see again, were so worth conducting on a higher level. They will make not only my day but my project come out better. And this made all of their days better, because of not just another obnoxious New Yorker on a holiday weekend during a sale. It did not cost anything in terms of dollars and almost nothing in terms of time. The net gainfor all was really significant.

Just a day in the store.