Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

The Cult of the ‘Skine

July 20, 2009

There is a lot to be said about big box stores, and most of it ought to be negative. But they are one thing, unavoidably and absolutely: they are cheap. So when my new homeowner self was faced with sticker shock at having a locksmith visit the new house to re-key three locksets, I turned to the orange store around the corner to save me. Yeah, I hate to add three locksets to the landfill, but it would be about 1/3 the price to do so. And it would let me switch from brass to brushed nickel. And maybe I could give away my old locks on Craigslist or something.

Of course the two big drawbacks to Home Despot are 1.) finding someone to help you, and 2.) finding someone else to help you, since the person you found either a.) unhelpful, or b.) unknowelgeable. But today was different, starting with the person on the phone who was sage enough to hip me to my big lesson for the day: when the manufacturer ships locksets, the first three in the carton will be keyed alike. Which would save me the re-keying charge for at least one lockset. Bingo!

Yet unfortunately, I was unable to find what I wanted in brushed nickel. So as I was getting handed off from the Guy Who Doesn’t Know to The Guy Who Says ‘No!’, a lanky young man strided by. At least 6-foot-4 and with dyed red hair, he didn’t look like the typical orange apron-wearer, not by a long shot. And sure enough, when one of his associates asked him to answer my question ‘No!’, he smiled and said, “Sure, no problem!”

Clearly, there was something special about this guy. A minute later, I knew what it was. I was trying to figure out when he could help me with my locks, so I was asking him about his work schedule for the following days. When he started to tell me, I unconsciously whipped out my Moleskine and a pen and flipped to the next fresh page to jot down the details. He kept rattling off days and number before he effortlessly added, “Moleskines are an essential part of life”.

“Absolutely,” I nodded. “Absolutely.”

Now we were getting somewhere! We left the other associates behind, returning to the hardware aisle, where he dug around to find what I was looking for. Then, he got right to work re-keying the doorknobs to match the deadbolts for the ridiculous fee of $5 per cylinder. When I needed to run to make an appointment, he assured me that the locksets would be waiting for me on my return. Which they were, of course.

It’s a rare thing to find someone so passionate about their retail job, much less one who appreciates the finer things like Moleskine notebooks and the finer points of crème brûlée (which topic came up as we debated the relative merits of propane and MAPP gas torches. Yeah, I bought the MAPP.). I just hope my new friend is there next time I need to visit my local big box. I’ll definitely need the help.

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