I’m not the most manually gifted person. Anything more than screwdrivers and hammers is above my ability level and we have to “call the guy.”
But recently, I was taking something apart so I could move it somewhere else. Everything went fine until I started to put it back together, and there was a nut missing. I had the threaded bolt, but (poof!) the nut had gone off to live in the Land Of Missing Socks.
I don’t have a collection of nuts on standby, so buying a replacement was my only option. But this seemed way too small for a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot, where the employees already roll their eyes at me regardless of my request. Instead, I went to an Ace Hardware store, where I hoped the condescension wouldn’t be quite as noticeable.
It was the first time I’d ever set foot inside the establishment, yet as soon as I opened in the door, I recognized the old hardware store smell you don’t get in a big box retailer. It’s a combination of musty and dusty, the result of decades of screws, tacks, and hinges sitting in drawers hoping they’d be the next ones to escape into usefulness.
I went over to an aisle labelled Nuts And Bolts (hey, this is easy!) and started looking through the assortment of items in pull-out boxes with numbers on the outside that meant nothing to me (no, it’s not so easy!). I spent well over six minutes rooting around before an employee approached and asked if I needed help. I explained what I needed and he led me to a board on a wall I hadn’t noticed where I could test the width of the bolt against a variety of nuts.
I’m going to guess it took him almost 45 seconds to discern exactly what I needed, then led me over to the drawer that was full of nuts that would fit my bolt (if you’ll pardon the expression). He asked, “How many do you want?” “Just one,” I replied sheepishly. “Okay,” he responded as he placed a single nut in a very small clear plastic bag, wrote 15¢ on the outside, and handed it to me.
I walked over to the woman at the cash register, gave her a dollar (using Apple Pay on my iPhone didn’t seem appropriate for this amount), got my change, and was on my way. As I walked out, the company’s jingle started up inside my head, because it turns out — and I’ve received no compensation for repeating this — “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.”
And before you ask, yes, I managed to not lose that nut, allowing me to reassemble my project successfully. With victory well in hand, I’ve begun thinking of using a hex wrench to tighten my office chair, but that may just be the adrenaline talking.