The Hardware Store Complimentary Dad

My bud Scoobie and I have discovered an unmet marketing need. When stepping into one of these big-box mega hardware stores, we've decided each layman-- unskilled in the mysterious ways of "fixed wall flanges" and "collated balluster connectors"-- should be issued a Complimentary Dad for the duration of the visit.

This Dad would be ideal for consultation when an actual biological dad is not available to step in to tell you you're doing it all wrong, you need wood screws for that instead of nails, or it'll never hold, what were you thinking?

I envision it a bit like this:
Complimentary Dad: Hi, I'm Bill, welcome to Happy Hardware. I'll your Dad for today. What is it you're trying to do without properly reading the instructions first, or using the right tools for the right job?

Me: "I'm trying to fasten a wooden fire surround to a solid plaster and brick wall, but all I have is duct tape, Crazy Glue, chicken wire, and this chicken. Her name is Polly.

Polly: Bock.

Me: Is there anything else I'll need?

Complimentary Dad: "Why, when I was young, we didn't have Crazy Glue and duct tape. We had 3/16 inch blue masonry screws and a dream! Here, let me show you.

Okay, sure, you'd get a 20-minute dissertation of the joys of 3/16 inch blue masonry screws and how in the old days, they used to raise chickens a lot better lookin' than Polly there....

But then he'd also make sure you also have the right masonry bit for your drill, he'd write you down instructions of how to go about it, he'd remind you not to put the chuck key in some obscure place like you did the last time and you didn't have it when you needed it, did you?...

And, if it's a little slow in the store that day, he might even ask you when was the last time you put air in your tires? Because aren't they running a little low and you could have a blow out.

Personally, I need all the help I can get.

The irony is, Scoobie and I have been floating the Complimentary Dad idea around for about six years now.

Every time I drag her into one of those mega home refurbishment stores on some kind of overly-ambitious Fool's Errand for my house, we wander 10 miles through dark spooky forests of lumber...

Dank sewers of piping, with a giant fan we have to leap over...

Bleak mines filled with creeping creatures stroking O-rings and whispering, "My Precioussssss"...

We have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, and use metal detectors to try to find some tiny part the size of a pin which my dad has said I needed to finish a project...

And which I couldn't identify if it came up and dovetailed my shoe to quarter sawn ply.

So the Complimentary Dad would really do the job.

A few weeks ago, I was very close to having a Complimentary Dad Experience in Home Depot.

As I stood staring at a five-mile row of shiny metal things in bubble packets draped to the wall, this wonderful old man came out of nowhere.

He asked me what I was hoping to accomplish, led me through the enchanted forest, properly gauged my level of carpentry proficiency as somewhere equivalent to the fingerpainting-and-eating-paste level of home improvement, and tucked things I needed into my hand.

I was so grateful... so relieved... I almost smooched him up and gave him a tie for an early Father's Day.

That's the power of the Complimentary Dad. So if any marketing bigwigs from one of those giant hardware warehouses is out there reading this?-- take note. It's a freebie suggestion from me to you.

And if my own dad is reading this-- yes, I do know where the chuck key to my drill is.

Thanks, Pop.
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21 comments:

Kimberly said...

I love this.
Ironically, my non-complimentary, ACTUAL Dad's name is Bill.

And he has a margarine tub of those masonry screws in the basement next to his big red toolbox that is still too heavy for me to lift just like it was when I was eight.

Jenn Thorson said...

Kim- Ah, so if your own dad were looking for extra cash, he would be a FINE Complimentary Dad in his non-official-dad hours. :)

Jaffer said...

I think only a dad would have tolerated you taking a live chicken inside a hardware store.
I don't see kids holding even a plush toy chicken these days !

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- What do you mean? Chickens are all the rage with those hip groovy young'uns these days! Don't be such a square! :)

Deray said...

Oh Jenn, you should totally do a follow-up post for a complimentary boyfriend for single gals that need mechanic advice for their cars! jajajajajajajaja

Jenn Thorson said...

Deray- Yeah, but I suspect I might not want to put him back afterwards. It would be my best chance of getting a decent date! (snicker) :)

Le-Chat said...

Actually MY dad too was a Bill - or he would have been in the US... (his name in Dutch was Willem). And true I often wish I could call him somehow when I'm in the hardware store! Of course there's always personnel you can ask, but somehow you don't do that so quickly. I wonder why, is it because you don't want to look dumb or because you just don't trust them for not trying to sell you what they want, and more than you really planned? So how do you envision Complementary Dad is employed if he's not to be part of the regular personnel?

Jenn Thorson said...

Le-Chat- Well, in many of our stores the staff are great at telling you where things ARE, but don't all necessarily know so much about actually building/fixing things, etc. Or they're just so mobbed helping people find things they don't have time to find out WHAT you're trying to accomplish and then tell you what you need. So while I think the Complimentary Dad would be employed by the store, he'd be more like a docent for a tour.

Funny, your dad being a Bill, too!

Le-Chat said...

'Course our shops are smaller and this is Amsterdam. Then I still have the option of going to the really small shop, 'downtown' in the center of my neighbourhood, where Complematary Dad is actually the owner :) But at a price :(

TJ Lubrano said...

Haha! I like this post and I love Polly! I wish I had a Polly to bring along in a hard ware store. I usually don't go into a hard ware store by myself, but I tag along with my dad.

And it's just like with the paint...Zen mode all over the place. But not that he doesn't know what to do though. With tools and electric stuff, my dad knows exactly what to do. He usually meditates in front of the drills, screw drivers etc. He feels connected with it I guess ^_^.

Jenn Thorson said...

Le Chat- We do have a couple of local very-small hardware stores with a more old-fashioned feel that DO pretty much act as the Complimentary Dad. Few of us have the benefit you have, though, of having the Real Dad run one of them. :)

TJ- You bringing a chicken into a hardware store and asking for advice. Somehow, I can see you drawing that. :)

Your dad cracks me up, communing with the paint and tools. "Ohhhmmmmm!"

ReformingGeek said...

I just saw Polly. She has a few screws hanging out of her beak and a drill chuck guy up her.....

Bad day?

Jenn Thorson said...

"Polly want a screwdriver?" :)

Joel Klebanoff said...

I have a hard time supporting a Complimentary Dad who is unwilling to spend the time necessary to keep up with the modern tools and technologies.

"Why, when I was young, we didn't have Crazy Glue and duct tape. ..." Yes, exactly pops. You didn't have them then, but we do now. Get with the times!

Of course, I'm old enough to be the complimentary dad of some of your readers. Unfortunately, "Handy" is not my middle name. It's "Useless Twit." I've never forgiven my parents for that.

Jenn Thorson said...

Joel- Wow, easy there, Joel, you're getting all fiesty with the other dads! :) You should sue over that middle name..

Melanie said...

My dad is a Ron, no a Bill, but I'd like to offer his services as a complimentary dad. He and I tend to argue about how things should be done, but he'd be awesome at telling less handy gals that they need the blue masonary screws. AND he'd tell you you don't need that silly ol' super glue, what you really need is gorilla glue and a BIG clamp.

I'm lucky, at our local lumber yard, I've got a complimentary big brother type named Dave. Don't know what I'd do without him.

Leeuna said...

He could also remind us to Put Those Tools Back Where You Found Them When You're Done!!! Great idea Jen. :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- Is your dad fond of C-clamps? My one friend's dad seems to feel C-clamps are the shining golden answer to everything. :)

Leeuna- Ah, yes-- one of the Dad Classics!

iola said...

I think you have definately hit on a much needed niche market that needs immediate filling..smile...

madtexter (corey james) said...

Oh, I would be soooo much worse than "duct tape, Crazy Glue, chicken wire..." It would be more like, "I have this thingymabob that I need to attach to a whatchamacallit and I can't figure out if I need the screw driver with the flat sides or the one with the pointy top that looks like a drill bit." I'm sure my 'Complimentary Dad' would just roll his eyes and say, "Son, you need professional help," and walk away.

chyna said...

I'm not sure about complimentary dad but finding anyone to help would be a huge help!!!!