I enter the hardware store, with the aisles of sprinkler attachments, electrical equipment, light bulbs, and gardening tools. I only need a light bulb, and with the hinting of the giant sign that says, “LIGHT BULBS” on the opposite end of the store, I think I can figure out where they are. In fact, with me, I’m carrying the burned out bulb so I know exactly which one, among the hundreds of bulbs available to me, that I need.
With me, today, I bring my father. Why, you ask?
Because, if you enter a hardware store as a lone, young woman, be prepared to battle your way to the aisle your items are located on. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the light bulb aisle unmarried, be prepared to fight in hand-to-hand combat while you try to snag the single bulb that you need. After, bulb in hand, sprint. Sprint for your life. Sprint for your unmarried, single life.
I guarantee you from past experience, that if you have a beating heart, breasts (even covered ones), and a semi-pretty face, every man in that store will ask if you need help finding your light bulb.
Thank you very much, gentleman, but I know where my light bulb is located. In fact, I am even literate, so I can read the packaging of the bulbs to decide if I want warm light or cool light. And even if I were illiterate, the colors on the packing, orange, indicating warm light, and blue, indicating cool light, and the lightning bolt symbol indicating energy efficiency would probably be enough to allow me to pick the bulb that is just right for my very own unique light bulb needs. Unfortunately, I do not need your help satisfying these special light bulb needs.
So, when I enter the store alone, I dodge the overly enthusiastic greeting party saying, “Welcome to our oh-so-happy hardware store! Can we help you?”
“No, I’m fine, thanks.”
Then, I sprint to aisle one, where I slink my way down the aisle to avoid the three employees walking towards me. But am I safe? NO. I run to the end of the isle, rounding the corner into aisle two just in time, avoiding the three helpful employees which just entered aisle one, having seen the lone young woman on a quest in their territory, and for all they know, she could have been hardware distress, needing an overly helpful, knowledgeable man to save her!
In aisle two, I am not safe either. I enter the main pathway in the store, sprinting to aisle 10 where my bulbs are located, freeing myself from the bright smiles, big eyes, and “Hi, can I help you?’s”.
In the bulb aisle, two happy, single male employees ask if I need help.
“No thank you,” I reply.
“If you need me, I’ll be by the paint,” they tell me coolly.
Oh yes, by the paint. That’s where I’m going to pick up my man. “You can paint me,” I’ll tell them.
I grab my light bulb, and I even grab a spare to save myself another trip to this nightmare of a store, then I sprint for the check-out, wielding my katana sword and taking out the happiness along my way.
“Do you need help finding anything?” I hear somebody ask.
“Yes, any help?”
“Would you like assistance?” I hear.
“Hi, can I help you?”
“How are you today? Can I help you find something?”
NO! NO! NO!
I see the blurs of employees around me. I jump over their heads, backflip, and land on my feet where I throw my two bulbs on the checkout belt, wait for the woman to scan my items when she asks, “Did you find everything alright?”
“YES! I FOUND EVERYTHING JUST FINE!” I snap.
“Oh wonderful. Have a wonderful day!” she enthusiastically (and rather redundantly) exclaims.
“Yes, you too. All you happy hardware people and overly helpful employees, have a VERY happy day.”
With that, I forward roll out the front door. Mission accomplished.
So you see, I figured out a strategy. The next time, I bring my father.
“Hello,” the greeting man at the door says.
“Hey,” we reply. We walk to our aisle with only one stop of a “Finding everything okay, guys?”
A bold fellow, that one. “Yes, we’re finding everything just fine,” my dad replies.
We get our items, and then we check out.
It’s like, an entirely different experience, walking into a hardware store with a man by my side. I think I’ve found the key to a peaceful shopping experience. I bring a man with me, not because I need help figuring out what on earth a hardware store is useful for, but I bring a man with me to keep back all of the hardware prince charmings trying to save somebody who doesn’t need saving.
If I need help finding a light bulb, I shall tap you on the shoulder and ask for your help, and I will be very grateful for whatever you are able to do for me, hardware people. If I do not need help, though, I certainly don’t need 30 volunteers offering their bulb-finding services.
So, if you are a single, capable woman, bold enough to venture into a hardware store, be warned. You should either bring your weapons, your swiftness, and your courage, or simply, bring a man.