Can I help you find something?
Now that he has spoken, I look again at the presumed geezer on greeting/directional duty at the Home Depot entrance. He is, perhaps, less old than I. Sigh.
But I recover quickly (Experience tells: almost every worker I meet these days is less old than I) and enquire, brightly,
Experience tells here, too: I don’t brush off his offer. I have spent probably a week of my life-to-date wandering the aisles of big-box home-improvement stores, not finding stuff, and have no desire to spend any more time so engaged. I have learned to ask the first employee I see, and isn’t it nice that on this visit I can see an employee as soon as I enter?
Anyway: I tell him what I’m looking for, by department, but I don’t stop there. I don’t want the plant-or-encourage plants part of the garden centre: I want the remove-or-discourage-plants part. I want, in fact, a pruner, which word does not leap to my lips quite as fast as it did when I was less old than I. So I hold up the index and middle finger of my right hand and move them in the standard gesture for scissors from the “rock, paper, scissors” game, hoping it will convey “pruner” rather than “perennial” or “peat moss.”
And whaddya know, it does: Clearly, my career in communications has been time well spent. My greeter says, “Garden pruner?” but it isn’t really a question. Indeed, he has already half-turned for the next part, doing his own hand gestures.
Aisle 1, all the way down, on the left
Off I go. Three minutes later, I am heading back out of Aisle 1 with not one but two cutting tools. One is the garden-variety (ha!) pruner which was my minimum objective; the other is the added-functionality tool which was on my wish list, albeit without a name: a tool that translates a natural one-handed vertical squeezing motion into a side-to-side cutting motion, the better to chop off weeds at ground level, my dear. (Grass shears. Oh.)
As I pass the younger-than-I geezer at the entrance, I awkwardly hold my intended purchases aloft in the standard one-handed gesture of triumph: awkwardly because they’re packaged in hard-to-stack, hard-plastic-and-cardboard bubbles, the better to deter theft on aisles that never see a store employee, my dear. Why one-handed then? I need my other hand for the explanatory gestures.
And I found this!
I do this . . .
and it does this.
He seems to track my squeezing and cutting gestures. Either that, or he has learned not to engage with old ladies who are waving their hands. Smile and nod . . .
As I leave the DIY checkout with my hands full of unbagged garden tools, it occurs to me that I had to know about grass shears (even if not by that name) to be able to look for them. There’s a broad life lesson there, I expect.
In an older-if-not-necessarily-simpler age, I might have engaged in a conversation with a store’s owner or long-time employee about my remove-or-discourage plants objective, and the tools they had to offer.
You need a garden pruner for sure,
but you might also be interested in these grass shears.
Today, no big-box store offers that because no one has staff for that because we won’t pay for that or that’s their calculation, at any rate. Of course, I can always ask Google about plant removal-or-discouragement tools before I go to the store, but sometimes I just want someone-who-knows-this-stuff-and-who-also-cares-about-the-next-sale to cut through all the options and to tell me what I need.
I have stores like that in Ottawa for the critical stuff I buy: camera stuff, bird-feeder stuff, knitting stuff (yes, OK, I have stores like that in several cities for knitting stuff). It’s hard to see what the big-box stores think they’re offering now that competes with Amazon’s “other customers also bought this” functionality, combined with next-day delivery. Surely the only people who haven’t completely migrated to the new shopping model are at least as old as I.