This is a true story. I decided to make a gift for a friend of mine here in Nashville and I needed PVC pipe to make it. I know, weird. But PVC is really very versatile! So I went to Lowes hardward store and found the plumbing aisle that sported a few different types of PVC. A Lowes’ employee happened to be close by, so I asked him what the difference between the various kinds of pipe was. He said, “Well you have to use this kind for drinking water.” That’s it. That’s all he said. And I thought, that’s a weird response.
So I talked loudly to the back of his head as he was walking away, “But I’m not gonna use it for drinking water. What about all these other PVC pipes. What are they for?”
He turned around, obviously agitated, and said, “If you’re using it for draining, you can use this kind,” he gestured vaguely with his arm and turned to walk away again.
“But I’m not using it for plumbing. Why do these look different?” I called after him, pointing to another tall shelf of white pipes, even though he couldn’t see what I was pointing to. He kept walking. Hummmph! I thought, this is Christmas, you ought be nice to me! Nonplussed, I examined the shelves of PVC pipes and decided I would just get the cheapest. I needed two lengths of 97 inches and 110 inches, so I figured two ten-footers would be fine. I couldn’t reach the ten-footers, so I called to the Lowes’ guy, who was hiding behind some big boxes down at the end of the aisle. “I need some help getting these down!” I called. Needless to say, he ignored me.
I started to giggle coz, this was getting to be the funny scrooge story of Christmas. So I picked up a short pipe and threw it at him. Just kidding — only in my dreams. I did pick up a pipe and poked at the high ten-footers and managed to get 2 of them to fall gracefully into my open arms. Voila!
I practically waltzed down the aisle, looking for a different Lowes’ guy to cut the pipes for me. Luckily I found a friendly looking one. “Could you please cut these pipes for me?” I asked politely, feeling lighter.
“You don’t have to cut ‘em,” he replied, “that’s why we sell the five foot long ones.”
What kind of answer is that? I thought to myself. Where am i and who are these people? ”I don’t need five foot long ones,” I said, “I need one at 97 inches and one at 110 inches.” He stared at me like I had just spoken in Sanskrit, so I went on to explain, marking the approximate places with the edge of my hand, “I need this one cut about here, and this one cut about here.” I smiled hopefully.
“You want what?” he said. So I repeated myself for the third time – what else could I do? He scratched his head and said, “Well, if you want those cut, you oughta buy those shorter pieces.” I swear to you, I am not making any of this up.
I hastily expostulated, “No, no, I need the long ends of these peices after they’re cut here and here.” I was starting to feel like I was in a foreign country.
“Well, we don’t cut PVC pipe.”
“What?” I said. It was my turn to be stunned.
“You can cut ‘em yourself with dental floss,” he went on.
“What?” my forehead must have crinkled in a hundred places.
“Or a jig saw, or those big clippers.”
“Dental floss?” I queried. Was he talking about magic dental floss, like magic tinsel in that Christmas movie?
“Yea, electricians do it all the time,” he seemed to think that would excuse him from my request.
“Can’t you just do these two cuts for me?” I persisted, trying to ignore his last bizarre comment.
“Nope, we don’t do that here,” he persisted. Just then another Lowes’ guy came walking down the aisle towards us.
“Hey!” I called out, “Can you cut these PVC pipes for me?”
“What?” this new guy said.
“I already told her we don’t do that here,” the other guy said.
He arrived at the corner of Hollywood and Vine and stood there between the two of us, turning his head to his fellow employee and then to this lady holding two long pieces of PVC pipe.
“Do you have any dental floss?” I asked.
“What?” he said again. Then he just walked away, shaking his head.
“Wait a minute,” the other guy mumbled and then he walked away, too. So I stood there wondering if he meant, “Stay here, I’ll be back” or “I have to go do something that I just remembered, wherever that other guy was going.” So I stood there smiling and humming, on the off-chance that he would return. Guess what? He did come back! With some clipper things! Yay! Life was getting better! He took one of the pipes from me and pulled a measuring tape out of his nice Lowes pocket. Then I told him I would hold it for him while he measured. So he gave it back to me as I said, “Ninety-seven inches.” Then I noticed a work bench-looking table nearby and I suggested we use it.
After he measured, he went at it with the clipper thing — which didn’t work, but he tried really hard. I was impressed by his sudden change of attitude and thanked my lucky stars. A change of attitude turns night into day. I smiled. “Wait a minute,” he said again, and off he went. I leaned on the high table and rolled the pipes back and forth to amuse myself. He was back in a jiff with a jig saw. I held the pipe as he sawed and it actually worked — eventually. We got both pieces cut and I thanked him, knowing he had had to do some emotional and mental readjusting in order to serve me so well.
I headed to the front of the store and asked a small gaggle of women at the check out if any of them was a manager. They turned to me, doe-eyed and silent. “I’d like to speak to a manager, please,” I said again. The little committee dispersed immediately leaving the one lady who couldn’t leave coz I was at her cash register. “I want to tell a manager how Roger really helped me today.” Still silent, she broke out into a smile. “Are you a manager?” I said again.
“Wait a minute,” she finally spoke, and left. I started to giggle, feeling like I was in a Saturday Night Live skit. She came back shortly, followed by a guy – the same guy who had walked away from me and Roger, shaking his head just moments earlier.
“Are you a manager?” I asked. Silence. I figured no one was going to fess up to being responsible for anything, so I continued, “I wanted to tell someone that Roger really was great in helping me out with these pipes.”
“Which Roger?” the guy asked.
By now, you would think, I’d be getting used to these inane answers. “The Roger that has ‘Roger’ on his shirt, and was standing back there talking to me when you came up to us.” I smiled.
“Oh,” he said, “Roger Beeke. You’ll have to call in and report something like that.”
“OK, what’s the number? And do you spell his name, B-E-A-K-E?” I asked.
“OK, with three E’s,” I said, sort of to myself so I’d remember.
“No, two E’s” he said.
“B-E-A-K-E?” I’m sure I looked confused.
“No, B-E-E-K-E,” he said again.
“That’s what I was asking the first time,” I giggled. He smiled. The lady smiled, watching, like it was a tennis match. “And what’s the number I call?”
“One eight hundred LOWES,” he said and walked away.
“That’s not enough numbers,” I said but he just kept on walking. I turned to the lady cashier who was standing there staring at me with a big smile on her face. “What’s the whole number?” I asked.
“Oh,” she seemed to wake up, “you have to put a 1 and 800 in front of it.”
“But you need seven numbers after the ’800.’ Do you have a card?” I was giggling again, trying hard not to roll my eyes. “What’s the matter with you people?” I said giggling and shaking my head.
Instead of reacting to my candid commentary, she smiled even bigger and said, “Just a minute,” and left.
It took her a while to get back but she when she finally did, she had the whole number. I apologized for my previous comment, but she just hugged me and said, “There’s never been so much excitement here before!” I wished I could’ve said the same thing!
She rang me up and quipped, “That Roger is never nice to me.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling like we had bonded. “What’s your name? I’m gonna mention you too, when I call, coz you’ve been very helpful.”
“Oh,” she clasped her hands in front of her like she had just won the lottery and ran around the check-out counter and squeezed me with utter joy!
I was too befuddled to say anything.
I walked out of there with my PVC pipes, cut just right, giggling and then laughing. I got some looks in the parking lot. ‘Tis the season!
Sending warm wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season!!