Friday, June 30, 2006

Home Depoop Beyotch Session

I hate Home Depot. Just saying it makes me feel better.

Yesterday, I wanted to return some items that I had purchased (for the floor refinishing)—which were not used, nor opened. Home Depot’s stated policy is that if you don’t have a receipt, they will give you store credit, I haven’t bothered bringing in receipts because, like many DIY’ers I’m in that stinkin’ store twice a day picking up items, and I’d use the credit anyway. But yesterday I learned that even their store policy is subject to interpretation. When I went to return my items, my name came up as "suspended" since I had previously returned items without a receipt.

A young "manager" came over a lectured me about not having a receipt—I reminded him about the store policy and said I’ve got no problem with store credit as I needed to do more shopping right away anyhow. I also reminded him that as a manager, he could override the "suspend" if he felt I was a valuable customer and let me go on to purchase other items. He started to go on again about how the "system" showed that I had a "habit" of returning items without a receipt and that I could be ripping off the store. It was then that I lost my cool a little.

"First of all," I said, "they don’t pay you enough to give me this grief."

"But sir, the ‘system’…."

"And second," I continued, "if your ‘system’ shows that I have returned items before without a receipt, it should also show that I have also spent tens of thousands of dollars in a store that provides no customer service, no floor help, and a whole lot of attitude. I’m attempting to follow your store policy and you are giving me crap about returning $100.00 worth of merchandise when I have purchased tens of thousands worth…."

After a protracted discussion, he returned the items and I said next time I’ll bring in my receipts (which I have a million stuffed in a brown paper bag—I’ll let them sort through them).

After going through the check out line with my most recent $600.00 purchase, I couldn’t help myself so I took the $600.00 receipt, tracked down the young manager, and said "If it makes you feel any better, I just spent $600.00 after returning $100.00." And walked out.

I’d like to take my business elsewhere, but for all intents and purposes, I am limited in my ability to shop the competition because the competition has been steam-rolled by this big box behemoth.

Home Depot have become the Walmarts of the home improvement industry—driving out the smaller mom and pop stores, and even becoming so large that they have successfully closed down other "big box" stores like Home Base and Yard Birds (which they purchased and promptly closed). For all intents and purposes, I don’t have many opportunities to "take my business elsewhere" any more because there just aren’t many alternatives. And with this monopolistic stranglehold comes poor service, customer anonymity, and big hassles.

Whenever possible, I shop the "Cheers" kind of home improvement stores—you know, where everybody knows your name…I don’t care if it costs more. I get better service, better ideas, and better instruction (which often saves me money in the long run). I like talking to Margaret at my local Ace store, or Eric at Kayney Paints (who has given me incredible help and suggestions when it comes to painting), or Andy at Dolan's Lumber (who worked with this novice and came out to my house to suggest ways of installing our windows). These people/businesses deserve our support.

For the sake of the "home improvement world" and our future "home improvement generation" I implore you to shop the smaller stores—whenever possible. It’s our only hope.

Good night. And good luck. And feel free to share your Home Depot horror stories here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In Need of a 12 Step Program

{Queue musical theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey}

I am slowly facing the fact that returning to civilization is inevitable. We have walls and electricity and flooring and, well, before you know it, we will have a kitchen, and laundry, and refrigeration and be able to cook with fire and clean with running water. My children will be able to take a turd in our downstairs bathroom. My God, I’m not sure I can take it. My greatest fear is that I will fail at becoming human again.

I fear that I will not remember what it was like to wear clean clothes for an entire day and for some inexplicable reason I may regress to the point where I slap some paint on my person just because "that is what I have known" for the last six years. Maybe I’ll jam some splinters in my legs, step on a few nails, drop some acidic liquid in my eyes, or partially cut my thumb off with my table saw just for "old time sake." Maybe I’ll have my children whack me in the shins with a two-by just to feel that pain again.…Or perhaps I’ll find myself driven to cruising the aisles of Home Depot, like some sadistic "John" trying to get my S&M fix by, first, looking for help, and then, second, actually asking the moronic sales person a question…I’m not sure if I can live a normal life again.

I may have become like one of those prisoners who "can’t take it on the outside." What if I become like the Christopher Walken character in The Deer Hunter, and I find myself in the garage with a partially loaded nail gun pointed at my head yelling "Di-di mao!"

What about friends??? I don’t remember what it was like to have friends come over to my home and not be like "Jeebus, you live here?" Will I actually be able to sit down, have a beer, and watch a game? Will I still be able to remember how to cast a fly rod? Will my children want me hanging around them (more than I already do)? What if I’ve become addicted to the trans-fatty acid of McDonalds? Once you have sunk to these depths, is it possible to make that long, arduous, crawl back to civilization?

Friends, I need help. Is there a 12 Step Program for people who are coming down from a six-year house binger? If not, do you have some practical advice that will bring me back to civilization….?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Best Paint Stripping Tool In The World

Without this I would go insane...But with my Ipod and heat gun stripping paint is not so bad...just want to make sure I don't fry my pod...

I need to finish stripping the stairs...I've got some good tunes lined up, but I'd be interested in hearing your suggestions as to some good "paint-strippin'" tunes...