Saturday, May 24, 2008

Goodbye, Old Friend

My favorite hardware store is now closed, the victim of a brand new “big-box” store that just opened down the road from it.

The new place may have its advantages, but in my heart it will never replace the the little one I grew up with.

I'll miss the sense of community that comes from going where all your neighbors go.

The feeling of connection to a charming piece of traditional Americana every time you enter the store.

And the memories. Goodness, the memories!

Like the time my wife and I stood and debated for half-an-hour which kind of trim board would most effectively mask the precipitous slant in our walls and ceilings.

Or the time we stood and debated which pattern of discounted tiled carpeting looked cheesiest.

We renovated our first home together with materials from the old Home Depot on Longview Drive in Bangor.

Now it's gone.

I'm getting all choked up.

The parking lot is eerily empty and silent.

Birds still twitter in the orange canopy on the front of the building, but the persistent grumble of lumber carts and diesel engines is a distant memory.

I will always remember you fondly, good ol' Home Depot. I don't care if there's a newer, bigger Home Depot that just opened up down the road, or if there's a new Lowe's across the river. It's not the same.

You'll always be my neighborhood hardware store.

I'll miss your cheerful, personable pre-recorded greetings and safety admonitions.

I'll have to not get used to seeing the same dependable, friendly faces of the self-checkout machines. Oh, I know the new place has self-checkout machines, too, but they just don't have the same familiar, neighborly feel.

I could always count on the competent advice of one of your couple-hundred employees, always steering me in the right direction and putting a smile on my face, too.

I realize many of those same employees are now working at the new store, but it's just not the same now that you've added – what, must be a dozen or so – new ones. Complete strangers!

One time I applied for a job at Home Depot, and I was able to charm the manager into showing me to the interview computer.

Darn corporate greed! It just goes to show you that capitalism is sometimes not all it's cracked up to be.

My little neighborhood Home Depot was fine. Sure, it wasn't turning huge record profits, but it allowed the owner a decent wage to feed his family.

But the suits in Georgia weren't satisfied. They wanted to turn their huge profits into profits that were a teensy, weensy bit larger than huge, and they figured a newer, bigger Home Depot built on wetlands would attract more customers.

Well, I can name at least one customer they've lost.

When I think of that trusty old orange and concrete building (must be a historic site by now, having been erected a full ten or fifteen years ago) just wasting away on the edge of town, it's enough to make me shop for all my tools at K-Mart.

Ah, K-Mart... at least there's one pillar of consistency left in town!

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