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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Monday, March 06, 2006
Tool time
Robert Avrech was at the LA hardware mecca yesterday, and so was I (no, I didn't know until I read his post today). I was also at OSH, twice. And Emil's. Twice.

It all started when I heard about a foiled break-in at a neighbor's house. And then another down the block. And an actual break-in a street over. And other things going on in the neighborhood. So I decided it was high-time I installed a security door on the side door my wife insisted (to her credit) we install for better egress to the outside world. No big deal, I've installed one of these things before.

So last week I took the van and dropped a few Benjamins at OSH, which is on my way to work. Loaded up with a 36" white magnum steel security door, a 1/2" cordless drill, and a set of Shlage locks'n'handles. And Sunday I settled in with RB (Ralphie's Brother, who lives in our guest house) to hang that puppy up.

But first I had to go to OSH to return the drill and get different locks. A 1/2" drill is a somewhat specialized tool (3/8" is the standard for a drill) and therefore a little pricey, and by then I had found a friend who owns one. And I decided to save money and go with the Kwikset instead.

Only I forgot to buy the Kwikset (my list of things to get at OSH since I was going anyway had grown, and it kinda fell through the cracks). And when RB & I looked at the instructions, the first step was "install lock and handle." So I grumbled and went to Emil's. Emil's is a neighborhood mom-and-pop shop (okay, just pop) that's open only a few hours on Sundays. I will not be upset when Home Depot and/or Walmart crushes this little shop. This is the prototypical "If you don't know anything about hardware, please don't talk to me" shop.

But it's close to my house, so there I went. I waited patiently while the guy at the counter tried to file a workorder into a empty paint bucket filled with others. He must have fiddled with it for ten minutes until he placed it just exactly where he wanted it to go. Then he deigned to grunt in my general direction. I explained that I needed a Kwikset lockset that was too high to reach. But instead of a stepladder or stool, he produced a sort of elongated claw. I thought that the lockset was a little heavy for such a device, and it would probably fall and hit him in the face, but he must know what he's doing. He reached up and grabbed the lockset with the claw.

Then the lockset fell and hit him in the face.

None-too-pleased, he handed me the lockset. I asked if I could have it keyed to an existing key and he gestured toward the counter. I approached the counter where another guy was on the phone. He continued to discuss his side-business in real estate with a potential client for the next 15 minutes, while I, the in-person paying customer waited. Finally he asked what I needed, and he said he could do it but it would take 20 minutes. Steamed, I said fine, I'll come back later.

So I went home, in a terrible mood, and grabbed RB to hang the dang door, lockset or no lockset. We dragged the door over to the mounting site... and realized it was too big. I had measured the entire door frame width instead of just the door. RB wished me better luck next time, and I decided it was time to eat lunch. And weep.

When Mrs. R. returned with the van, I jacked it to return the door. I stopped at Emil's first to grab the now-keyed lockset ('cause they close at 1 on Sundays, even when it's not football season) and then proceeded back to OSH. Poor Sergey - he was new to the loading department and having a bad day. But we managed to get the paperwork so I could return the door.

And then, and then... off to B&B. B&B Hardware, where I had purchased my first security gate way back when for our first apartment (if "second story of a garage" can be considered an apartment). Why had I forsaken you, B&B? Why didn't I come to you first? Is it because you're not as close as the others? Not as accessible? Ah, but accessible you are. For as intimidating as such a hardware store might be, your employees are compassionate and considerate (well, except for the guy at the returns desk - he looks pretty mean). They helped me out lickety-split and I was on my way.

On my way home to collapse in a heap and resolve to hire somebody to install the door next Sunday.
I hate Emil's. They treat customers like trash. They never have what I'm looking for. They never answer questions. I'd rather drive four miles to B&B.
That is the gospel I shall now preach. And follow.
When I read the 1st line of your post, I thought "Ralphie should just hire my handiman!". It takes an experience like this to realize that the professional is often a bargain. When Lord Elmsworth and I purchased our 1st castle, the Lord rented an snake and tried to clear a blockage in the main line of the sewer. When we called the drain man 4 hours - and much dirt and frustation - later, we were happy to pay what seemed a horrible fee for only 15 minutes of his work.
Ralphie: Always consult Lord Emsworth before embarking on such a journey. If he doesn't deign to dirty his royal hands, he certainly knows a serf or vassal to do it for you. Also, as you can read in the comments over at Seraphic, B&B is in my blood. Perhaps I was conceived there.
Ralphie: it's true. I cnnot find a can of soup in Vons or Ralphs. But I can find a left handed twoozle knobber, blindfolded at B&B. I have several of the red shirts they gave away for their anniveraries. And when I wear them at B&B people ask me where to find items. And I direct them!!!

Actually, BEFORE you rush down to B&B for a new tool, ask me if I have it. Although, I gave up actually helping friends with their projects after one of them got stuck on his roof and they had to call the Fire Department to get him down.

My best advice to you right now is: be very careful with 1/2 inch drills. I have met people who have lost fingers to them.
geez, you got Robert to comment on your blog. I've been trying to win him over with babka for a month now, to comment on my blog...who knew I should have been taking a hammer to him instead.
Cruisin-mom: I'm sure he loved the babka. I'm sure he would also love a box of 100 rounds of hollow-point 45 calliber ammo.
(slaps forhead with hand)Thanks doctor bean...so that's what I've been doing wrong.
....you have a guest house...??
It's more of a semi-converted garage with a concrete floor, and inhabited full-time by my brother.
When my sister sent him a wedding invitation it had my address followed by "Backyard."
Isn't it also inhabited by multiple rats?
This is so weird, because last week, during my series of weird dreams week, I had one where my parents converted their garage into a guest house. It had beds and fluffy pillows and the amenities, but it was still very groaty. And then somebody unpacked my music gear outside of the garage and left it out overnight. Then I spent hours looking for my cords, and I woke up very aggravated.

b-n-c - It was the shed behind the garage that was rat-infested. Luckily they never bothered to infiltrate the garage itself. Probably were too nice-n-comfy next to the water heater. Let's just say they were very attached to that heater.

PT - May I recommend a good Freudian?
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