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Eff You, Lowes

August 3, 2009

This weekend, I had a bad case of the Catholic Guilts. These things hit me once in a while and, for long stretches of time, I sit around depressed over shit that is completely out of my control and doesn't affect me in one way or the other. For no good reason at all, I'll get all upset over the thought of people starving or not having air conditioning or being eaten by crocodiles or any of a thousand other sundry afflictions that can befall humanity. Specifically, that can befall humanity that isn't me.

I learned that, when I'm suffering from a case of the Catholic Guilts, watching Cars is akin to Superman being jabbed in the thigh by a big hunk of kryptonite. What? Lightning McQueen stopped the race and pushed The King over the finish line so that he wouldn't suffer the indignity of crashing on the final lap of his final race? Characters can be developed? People can learn lessons? Cue the water works. Not that I cried or any unmanly shit like that. No. Moistened...maybe. Tears? Not that I'll admit.

It's just a damned good thing I didn't watch Hoosiers is all I'm saying.

But then...I watched Cars twice this weekend. I'm fucking stupid. Then I tossed in The Incredibles, as well, just for good measure. What? Suburban husband and father longs for the good old days when he didn't have a gut and could smash things into atoms? This causing tension at home? Family recovers and fights evil together? Craig T. Nelson still has a job? Moisten me up again, Cowboy.

Granted, it's no Jimmy Fucking Chitwood hitting the final shot.

Fuck you, South Bend Central!

Apparently, the cure for a case of the Catholic Guilts is a trip to Lowes.

A couple of months ago, I replaced all the faucets in the two bathrooms upstairs: the one I share with my wife and the one that the kids use. Well, the stems coming out of the walls are 30 years old, and so even though I put on new faucet handles and everything, they dripped. Worse, I bought these lovely brushed nickel faucets, but they were made by a company called Danco. They were supposed to be one-size fits all sort of deal, which I thought was great. I won't have to worry about dicking with the stems. Unfortunately, the options for the one-size-fits-all are a nylon cube with a whole cut in it to fit down on top of the stem or an aluminum block that you can tighten down onto the stem using iron screws and an Allen wrench.

The metallurgists out there probably already see the problem here. Alternatively, if you've paid any attention to the various stages of human civilization, you would know that iron is a lot harder than brass or copper or whatever it is that they use to manufacture the stems. Therefore, when you're turning the water on and off, you tend to shred the tiny teeth in the stem that provide the grip for turning it on and off. It's the part at the top of the picture to the right.

So, with the head thoroughly shredded, and the butt end leaking badly (pray that I never have to write those words again), I went off to Lowes, the home improvement supply store, in order to get my fix. Armed with the faucet handle I'm trying to attach to my plumbing, I make a beeline for the plumbing department to seek the parts I would need, because I've decided to forgo Danco's lousy design (had I simply plopped the aluminum box back on the stem, I would be replacing them again in another month) and essentially craft my own faucet. Instead of using their one-size-fits-all bullshit, I decided to get a shorter stem and attach it directly to the faucet. However, this is where I ran afoul because I asked the attendant in the plumbing section for help.

Asking for help at Lowes is like asking the Pope how best to pleasure your girlfriend: you're not going to get the answer you want.

Spying pretty much exactly what I needed, I asked my friendly neighborhood plumbing assistant how I could tell if the head on the stem was a size H (which fit the back of my faucet handle) and he said he didn't know. They he asked if I had a Price Pfister. I said, no, it's a Danco. He then informed me that I was looking at Price Pfister stems. I said, that's fine, all I really want is something that will fit the handle so I can use it. He then said that Danco doesn't have that type of back, despite the fact that I held it up for him and showed him exactly what I needed and then told him what I wanted to do! Finally, after I had slaughtered untold number of neurons by conversing with this feeb, I went home, growled at my wife, got my kids ready, and went to a birthday party.

I should also add that birthday cake with a cream layer between the layers of cake, lots of ice cream and MILFs aplenty also help to ease a case of the Catholic Guilts.

So, Sunday, I go back to Lowes, where I eschew their "advice" and "assistance." I decided that, the best way to find what I needed, was to fit the stems onto the faucet handle before purchasing them. So, I poked holes in the tops of the plastic packaging holding the pieces I thought I needed and discovered, within about five seconds, how to check and see if stem head was a size H or not (it's in the first set of letters, in case any dumbfuck from the plumbing department reads this; for example, a 12H-H/C, is a size twelve, H-head stem that can be used for a hot or a cold valve...brilliant, no?). I found ones that looked reasonably like the stems I had at home, purchased them and took them home.

However, the threads didn't sit far enough back be set into my pipes, so had to repackage the one I had opened and take them back to Lowes. Frustrated, this time I went looking harder for exactly what I needed. And, I found it. I found exactly what I needed in the convenient catalogue that they placed there, presumably for the customer. Once having a near match for the old stems, I called for assistance. Figuring I was armed, knowledgeable and prepared, this should be an easy sale.

"Can I help you?" the man asked as he came to answer the assistance call.

"Yes, I'd like this one right here that's shown in the catalogue. Do you stock them?" I was rather proud of myself.

The guy looks around, fumbling through the various stems hanging there. "I think this is it." It wasn't, but it was a reasonable facsimilie. So reasonable that I had purchased four of them a few hours earlier and had to return them.

"Well, it is a size H. It's a 12, but I need something with threads further back. Also, do you have it in a 10? That would suit my needs better."

"I don't think so."

"Okay, well, see, here's some threading on my stem. Do you know what that's for?"

"Uh, no." (Turns out the threading wasn't necessary for installation.)

"I see. Well, this piece here, the one that looks exactly like it, the one in your catalogue placed here for my you carry that piece?"

"I can check."

He wanders off. Five minutes later, he comes back.

"We don't really carry that one. And we don't order parts in for people. You'll have to go to a plumbing supplier."

I hesitated for a second. I wanted to ask him if this was or was not a "plumbing supply store", as I was standing in the plumbing section. I then wanted to ask him why the fuck they had a catalogue there for the customer's convenience if they wouldn't be so helpful as to order in the parts that were requested or needed.

"Very well then," I said, with as much aplomb as I could muster, "thank you for your time."

As we are walking out past the customer service desk, my daughter, a bit frantic over the idea of not being able to shower, asked, "What are we going to do now, daddy?"

"The only thing we can do, honey," I said, projecting my voice for all to hear in a rather stage-worthy performance, "We're going to Home Depot, where maybe they have someone who actually knows what they're talking about." I then left the store.

To cut this rather unwieldy tale short...I went to Home Depot. Five minutes later, I left with exactly what I wanted. An hour later, I had replaced three of the four offending stems. As it was getting late and the kids were looking to me for sustenance, I felt I should cook some dinner and not wrestle with the fourth stem which is stuck in the wall, most likely covered in 30 years worth of crud, corrosion and blech. Once I get it unstuck, I'll switch it out and all will be well. I smell WD-40 in the future.

Oh, and I bought the Price Pfister fittings. There, on the package, emblazoned in solid black letters against the Carolina blue background, it says "Perfect fit for Danco products." Lowes plumbing assistants: incompetent AND illiterate.


Adam L. said...

Catholic Guilt should be a medical condition.

The wife and I recently had work done in the basement, and I don't think there was any step along the way where I didn't feel bad for disagreeing with her about SOMETHING (i.e. she hates the shower door pattern but we couldn't fit any other shower in the space I'm sorry honey I looked everywhere etc. etc.). There's the good ol' Catholic Guilt for you.

FYI, we got everything from Menards and had no problem getting assistance.

Chemgeek said...

First, I get all my stuff from Lowes because it's closer. I get my advice from Home Depot because it is 81% accurate (about 40% greater than my local Lowes).

Second, in true movie fashion, the last 19 seconds of the game in Hoosiers takes 41 seconds in real time.

otherworldlyone said...

"So, with the head thoroughly shredded, and the butt end leaking badly..."

Kinda bummed you called yourself out and I didn't get to.

Lowes sucks.

That is all.

Bev said...

Aww, here's a tissue, mjenks. Sorry you got the blues. I can't watch any movie involving animals when I'm in a funk or I get borderline suicidal. Seriously, I still get the shakes when I think about Snowdogs.

When you started talking about screws, I really perked up for a moment... then you really talked about screws, and for a while, too! Curse you!

I'm glad you got your plumbing situation all straightened out. There's nothing like bad plumbing or a wonky screw to really ruin your day.

LiLu said...

I love when store clerks tell you they don't "really" have something. Which is almost always code for "I have no idea, and I'm sure as hell not going to find out for you."

Jidai said...

Reaction to household stuff:

Gardening/Lawn: Awesome!
Painting: Sure.
Handy work: I guess.
Plumbing: *twitch* Fine...

Fancy Schmancy said...

Poor Catholic boy, there, there.

I try not to feel guilty about anything. It's an aversion to a childhood of being raised by an Irish Catholic father and Jewish Mother.

The Peach Tart said...

You had me at The Incredibles.

mo.stoneskin said...

The "metallurgists out there"?

*struggles to remember what that actually means*

All I know about metallurgy is that it was a key technology in Civilisation II, had a picture of a cannon on the symbol or something like that.

So no, I'm not a metallurgist.

Jon said...

I'm pretty sure Lowes is for chicks. They're always pimping their paint selection, garden department and fancy knobs.

Okay, that may or may not be true. I've just always wanted to work "fancy knobs" into a comment.

BeckEye said...

Copy. Paste. Email directly to Lowe's customer service department.

Then again, you'll probably just get a response like, "I am sorry that your recent trip to Lowe's was unsatisfactory. We strive for the best blabbity blah blah blah bullshit. Please enjoy this 10% off coupon for anything* in our store.

*Does not include plumbing supplies, paint, caulk, cock, anything made of vinyl or linoleum, plants, Christmas trees, doohickeys, or whatzits."

Mala said...

MJenks so sorry about your pipes.
Be wary of anything that says One Size Fits All... except for this (maybe).
And is it bad that all your talk about pipes, screws, and heads has me turned on? I didn't think so...

Cora said...

Did I ever tell you about the time a salescreep in the Lowes hammer, nail and screw deptartment (shut up) said "tit" to me instead of "tip". TWICE.

I haven't been back since.

True story.

Samsmama said...

We watched "Cars" yesterday morning. For the 5,000th time. Then we took all the toy cars from the movie and acted out the final race. And when we're out and about Sam will point out cars that resemble the characters. For example, there's a Doc Hudson that resides near us. And Filmore is the reason my son calls people "dirty hippy". I could go on and on. But I'll stop. Kachow!

Eric said...

I really enjoy recreational plumbing on the weekends. Just remember the teflon tape and putty!
Anything can be fixed with enough teflon tape, I think.

mylittlebecky said...

that was a lot about faucets. phew. and also, that's what she said. furthermore, chuck always says, "it's allergies." i guess he's allergic to movies.

ps this also reminded me that when chuck and i went to home depot this weekend there were two kids being fotografed holding a container of caulk by some old guy who looked like he might not be related to them.

Sassy Britches said...

Crying (oh, I'm sorry, moistened) and blech. I knew there was a reason I read your blog.

Cooper Green said...

I had the same problem, took off my faucet stem clearly marked H to replace it, but then I noticed that the one one on the right was a size C, even though it looked exactly the same! The clerk at Rona said, "you're lucky not to be in Quebec. They only have sizes C and F, and the C is always on the left!" Sacre bleu.

Nej said...

Mot did a similar thing this weekend. No,not with plumbing, but with (of all things) duck calls.

He wanted to look at some at Cabelas. The fancy ones they keep in the locked case. We stood there for a while, associates walked by, no one stopped.

I told him to go find somebody...but actually, I just wanted him to leave. Why? Well because everyone assumes a girl has no clue what she's doing in a hunting section. She must be there to buy things for her hubby...and will spend gross amounts of money, because the sales person tells them to.

It's sad...but I've used it to my advantage in more than one case...and intended to do it again this weekend.

No luck. I must have looked one stopped to help me. Drat!

Finally, I went and found someone. (Being shy, this pains me to no end...but I was getting frustrated.)

I told the man in the green shirt that we needed assistance, and someone with the key to the case.

He flagged someone else down...who told him "Justin is on break."

No one available to sell us something.

Mot says (quite loudly) "Fine, we're leaving. Maybe Bass Pro will have someone working that can sell us stuff."

They did. :-)

And, in regards to Home Depot vs Lowes. There is a HD near us, so that's where we go. But, we're there enough that we know what sale people to ask, and which ones to avoid. :-)

dg said...

See! "Home Depot Rules! Lowes Sucks!" This is Cap'n Recovery's mantra, man.

Oh...and I was SO disappointed that Lightening McQueen didn't just flip his middle tire to the rest of the racin' world and take the Piston Cup! What's with this stopping and going back and helping shit. L-O-S-E-R. My son LOVES that movie, so I had to inform him that it isn't like real life and he should never, ever give up a win to help some old fart out.

Plus? Obama's gonna kill all of the old fucks anyway. YIPPPEEE!

Winter said...

"Okay, well, see, here's some threading on my stem. Do you know what that's for?"

Is it wrong this turned me on?

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Adam L: I'm a fan of Menards, but the closest one I can think of is in Cincinnati, OH. I use Lowes because it's 3 miles down the street.

@ Chemgeek: I would whole heartedly agree with this. Plus, I think Home Depot has better quality of plants. That should be their selling point: The Home Depot, we know what the fuck we're talking about, and our plants come mold-free.

That's the awesome power of Jimmy Fucking Chitwood, baby. He can bend space time around himself.

@ Otherworldlyone: I'll remember never to openly castigate myself over a turn of phrase, again. Okay?

@ Bev: Do the tractors in Cars count as animals?

Yeah, unfortunately, with this house, I've learned all about how bad plumbing can ruin a day.

@ Lilu: It's a wonder that there's not more "beaten to death by an angry customer" headlines in the news.

@ Jidai: Where does electrical work fall? I used to fear it, but now I consider it some of the easier things I've had to repair.

@ The Peach Tart: I'll remember that the next time I see you in a bar...

@ Fancy: Thanks. I'm much better now. The desire to wring someone's neck takes those blues right away.

@ mo: I was thinking about working a Civilization reference in at that point, but I went a slightly different way. Thanks for adding that layer to the post.

@ Jon: I think studies have been done that have decided that Lowes is far more woman-friendly and Home Depot is more for the guys.

So, I think you're onto something there, Fancy Knobs.

@ Beckeye: They have cock at Lowes now? What stores have YOU been shopping at?

@ Mala: At this point, I would consider it a failure if I didn't manage to somehow turn you on with an otherwise innocuous post.

@ Cora: Well, duh, those things do usually travel in pairs.

@ Samsmama: At one point, we had a lot of the Happy Meal toys from Cars. And one night while we were watching the movie, my son (who was two at the time, maybe) went upstairs and came back down, laughing in this strange, triumphant manner, and he was carrying all of the Happy Toy Cars with him. He was so proud of himself for figuring out the connection between the toys and the movie.

@ Eric: That, my friend, is my home-improvement mantra. I love the teflon tape. I have about three roles of it. I even have a pink role. I'm not sure if it was breast cancer awareness teflon tape or what, but I bought it. That's the one I opted for this weekend while fixing the stems.

@ mylittlebecky: He should take some Claritin. And, yeah, that's kind of creepy. It's like the old couple who wanted to take pictures of all the kids when they came to the door for Halloween a couple of years back. We haven't gone back to that house.

@ Sassy Britches: For the pictures of half-nekkid chicks.

@ Cooper Green: And would he have ordered in the piece had you needed it and he didn't stock them on the shelves? He would have? Curse you again, Lowes!

Silly Quebecois.

@ Nej: See, this is why I like Mot. We think alike.

Most of the time, I avoid speaking the "help". If they ask if they can help me, I say I'm just looking. And then when they turn their head, I smash them in the parietal lobe with a 2x4.

@ DG: But, is was The King! He couldn't just let Chick Hicks eff over The King!

Also, I'd probably hit Home Depot more often, but Lowes is closer and in a less fucked up parking lot.

@ Winter: No. Being turned on is apparently a side effect of reading my blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Gauche said...

Home Depot strikes again. that's the only, and I do mean only, place to shop for home supplies. to hell with Lowes. I had problems like yours one too many times at Lowes...Home Depot is my best buddy now...