Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hardware stores are great places

I was taking K-daughter along with me to repair a light fixture, and I heard myself repeating my father's words:
Every plumbing repair means three trips to the hardware store.
We weren't fixing plumbing this time around, but the sentence still made some kind of sense in the situation.  For a lot of people, the going-back-and-forth-ness of home repair, the not-getting-it-right-the first-time-ery of DIY projects, that imperfection is what frustrates them and turns them off from trying to fix things themselves.

But Dad's example taught me that expecting a bit of frustration is normal, and that patience wins out.  Start a project when the hardware store is going to be open for a while, he says, and expect to hop back in the car, and eventually it'll come out okay.  It's the closest to zen my dad ever got.

K-d and I were fixing an incandescent light that had been acting unruly for a month or so.  She has a friend who is an electrician who offered to come by and check it out sometime, but when "sometime" took a long time, I got up on a chair, moved aside the ceiling panels, and figured out how to unhook the fixture.   Then I tucked it under my arm and hauled it and my daughter/apprentice off to the hardware store.

I might have mentioned once or twice that I hate going to stores.  The hardware store is my one glorious exception: man, I love that place!  We have one of those locally owned, family hardware stores about 3 miles from our house (a long distance by my standards), valiantly holding its own against the big box stores.

I almost never know how to fix what I want to fix when I come in, but I bring the broken piece and the guys there come over, take a gander at the problem, and lead me to the thingamajiggy that will make everything better.  I brought K-daughter along to demonstrate to her how the process works.  In this case, I suggested to my guy Joe we might need a new ballast.  My guy Joe looked over the fixture, showed me a $50 ballast, and then showed me a $12 new fixture that would work even better than the ballast.

K-daughter and I tooled on home, hooked up the fixture, and sure enough, good-as-new.  (In fact, it was new).  But then the fixture next to it started acting up, probably out of jealousy.  Back in the car we go, back to my guy Joe.

Fixture number 2 was an even quicker fix.  And all was good.

Only two trips to the hardware store.  I called Dad to tell him about this.  "Yeah . . . " he said. And then after another pause he added, "Sometimes you get lucky."

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