Earplugs

The first stop of the morning was for earplugs.

We went to Home Depot together and walked among gods on a Saturday morning. They were immortal more-than-men who would destroy things and build new things all in the same day. They were gods of their own homes, no matter whether those homes were built on wheels or foundations or gold bouillon. The people around us would buy socket wrenches and boards, 400-grit sandpaper and wood filler, electrical wire and chicken wire.

We bought earplugs.

There have been times in my life I have longed to understand those men who can destroy and create again so quickly. I’ve stood in Home Depot with an orange five-gallon bucket in my hand and looked across the shiny floors where real men seem to glide with innate assurance that they already know what to do and that the trip here is only a step they have to take in the process. They are God and need a trip to the market to pick up an apple or two before things start getting too civilized and sinless in their garden. I’m just a man with a bucket.

They put the buckets in Home Depot to set the gods apart from the people who are men of the house by nature of only their gender. The gods use the giant metal things with wheels that are apparently meant to haul boards. The vehicles—part orange, part silver where the paint has fallen away in a glinty ticker tape parade for real men—are not meant, apparently, for riding and screaming, “Wheeeeeee!” down the 2×4 aisle. The gods will deign to use a smaller, four-wheeled, traditional cart if all the wheelie things are in use or if they are buying something like a band saw or drill press that won’t fit in a vehicle that isn’t rectangular.

That is a long way of saying that carrying a bucket through Home Depot is akin to announcing in the giant echo chamber, “My hands are too small and dainty to carry my purchase, and further, too small to pilot the wheelie thing!”

That’s why they put the buckets there.

I am neither god nor man. I was buying earplugs. I let the boy carry them because they looked bigger in his hand. I did the manliest thing I could do at that moment. I paid in cash.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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3 Responses

  1. Da Goddess says:

    I hear you, loud and clear. But fear not, for those gods are often just men in need of help from the guys in the orange vests. The only difference is that they know this and you don’t.

    By the way, letting your son carry the earplugs is a very manly thing to do. He knows you trust him with the important things. And nothing is manlier than that, if you ask me.

  2. John Martin says:

    You are oh so wrong, my friend. As a recent-no-former employee of the Big Orange Box I can tell you that the only gods in the lumber or hardware deparments are the guys in the orange aprons. Nearly 90% of the customers who come in are so helpless that they shouldn’t be allowed in public without some sort of adult supervision.

    I give you kudos to you and the boy for knowing exactly what you wanted when you arrived. This is why those construction “gods” are all standing around trying to look like they know what’s doing on. The reality is that many of them are there looking for “help” with their project. The conversation goes something like this:

    Customer: “I want to build a deck. What do I need?””

    Me: “What are your dimentions?

    Customer: “I have no idea.”

    Me: “What material do you wish to use?”

    Customer: “I don’t know.”

    Me: “Do you have anything written down, drawn out, or pirated from the internet to help me help you?”

    Customer: “I like chicken.”

    You, sir, are the god in The Home Depot. And, probably, there alone.

  3. trodoss says:

    I am no ‘Hardwarian Master,’ nor am I a diety, nor patron saint of hardware and/or building supplies.

    Wearing my Voltron shirt walking down the isle with my two boys, I picked up a light switch recently. I am sure that I have provoked them to anger, as I did not pay in cash. So Otis, I too know how you feel.

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