Lowes: Shopping in Purgatory

This is a column I wrote in April of 2009. I post it here as both story, and warning. This past week has been much like this, which is why posting has been light. It will be better this coming week, with more posts in the que. Go now, read and take heed, dear friends.


So I have once more proved that when I make a decision about something, I really need to follow my own advice.

After the last excursion into the store which is so large it has it’s own zip code, I determined I would never go back. I was so furious at the way I was treated. I can let a lot of things roll off my back, and put up with a rather large amount of friction, but there is that one point where the switch trips and I won’t take any more.

Today was such a day. there were things that I needed to complete a few projects, I had tried to get them here in the local shops, but to no avail. Setting aside my last experience with Lowes, I ventured forth.

Now, I give them credit for the amount and quality of the stuff they carry. Almost anything you need for a house sans bed linens, mattresses and food, you can get there. What gets me, though are the people who work there. They give me the willies.

The whole staff are, I suspect, aliens imported from Planet Helpful, and a Tool-Time version of the Stepford Wives.  If you go there, never, ever, ever ask a question. It’s like catnip to a kitten. The eager-faced and sickeningly sweet dispositioned employee will muckle onto you and refuse to leave your side until everything is to your satisfaction. He or she will demand to lead you to not only  the department where the item you need is stocked, but will help you to locate said item. Whether you want them to or not. It appears to be a programming error and the help-bots have your absolute shopping pleasure as their prime directive.

I had already picked up a couple things in Lowes, and without thinking, innocently enquired of a young female employee where I might locate the paint department. I nearly recoiled in horror as she turned to face me with that knowing smile they all have.  It’s probably similar to the last thing that a mouse sees when the cat spots it.  Sigh.

“What type of paint were you looking for” she sweetly asked. Your humble scribe tried to break contact by saying “Oh, never mind, I’ll find it”. That triggered some deep seated madate and she literally took my cart and said “Follow me, I’ll help you!”.  Oh Dear God….. No!

See, not only will they lead you to the area in question, but they will demand to know what TYPE of product you need, then insist on finding it for you. Not only that, but they will politely offer alternate items so as to prolong their time with you and increase the suffering. Like a cat playing with a mouse.

I wanted some blue paint. Medium blue paint. Was that sufficient to sate her appetite? It most certainly was not. Blue? Why, what shade, hue, tint? Gloss, flat or satin finish?  Oil based or Latex? Is this French blue what you need? “Why yes it is”… but wait, she hauls off four more shades of electric, royal, sky and prussian. Please God, make it end. I just want some blue paint.

See, I am 54 years of age. I am not 10. Although my wife sometimes referred to me as “her oldest child”, it was in an entirely different genre. When men go shopping, they wish only to have a general location of the item in question, then to be left alone. The thrill is in the hunt. For a man, shopping is getting in, making the kill, and getting out. Safely. Alive.  Yet, we can be distracted by bright play pretties in the power tool department, various socket sets, and other tool and job related things. That’s alright. It’s a part of OUR shopping experience. Part of the experience that we can use to expand the tale of the hunt when we gather around the sacred barbecue grill and recount our exploits for those who were not there.

This, this… Stepford Child, this she-beast from shopping hell, was like athlete’s foot. Try as you might she wouldn’t leave. After treating me like a child, showing me this and that paint, and then demanding if that was what I needed, she toyed with me by coquettishly asking “Is there anything else you need?”  Weakened by the arduous battle with her, I responded “I also need a floor lamp”. Oh no…..
Instantly, the trap sprung, and my heart splattered across the floor as she again grabbed the cart and said “Lamps are over this way”… Please God, oh please, make it stop…..

Dear readers, those who know me… if you should ever see me approaching the entrance to Lowes, walking with a purpose as to enter and purchase something?

Shoot me. Please. It’d be an act of mercy.

Mommy! Make Him Stop Following Us! Please!


11 Responses to “Lowes: Shopping in Purgatory”

  1. August 7, 2010 at 15:32

    I had a different Lowe’s experience. Upon my return from Iraq, I found I needed a new washer/dryer combo. Taking advantage of Lowe’s significant savings offer I went to the nearest location and attempted to purchase a set that I saw on display. I was told by the salesman, that while they had the dryer the washer was back-ordered.

    “How long will it be till it comes in?” I asked.

    “I don’t know”, said the salesman. “Shouldn’t be more than a week or two.”

    “OK, I’ll go ahead and take them” I said.

    The salesman said he would go ahead and schedule the delivery for two weeks from that day and if the washer continued to be back ordered then they would call and reschedule. So as you might expect they called and said the washer wasn’t in and that they would now call me when the washer actually came in. Another week goes by and I’m checking my credit card bill and see the charge for a washer and dryer that I don’t have possession of on my bill. I decided then to go down to Lowe’s and see what was up. I found the salesman right away. Oh, yes I can look up your order..yes it’s right here, we can load it up for you right now. No I don’t want it loaded my Mustang can’t carry a washer and a dryer that’s why I asked for delivery. OK that will be next week then. WHAT??? Sir, you don’t understand last weekend is the busiest time of the year for appliance sales, we have a lot of deliveries. What ever happened to first come first served, I bought this stuff about a month ago. If you want it changed you need to talk to a manager.

    So I talked to a manager, he ended up getting me my washer dryer the next day and gave me 10% off for my trouble. While he was doing the paperwork I told him, “You know if your salesman I just said I apologies and tried to help me instead of tap dancing and BSing me you wouldn’t be loosing that 10% you are giving me. To the manager’s credit he was nothing but professional…but THAT’s my Lowe’s story.

  2. August 7, 2010 at 15:52

    My sister went through a VERY similar experience with a hot water heater. Needless to say she decided to drive out of her way to use Home Depot or Sears after that experience. 🙂

  3. August 8, 2010 at 01:12

    Amazing how knowledgeable they are about the location of the various products in the store, but have a melt down if you ask them to count back your change.

    • August 8, 2010 at 18:37

      Lemme tell you how bad it is out there. A friend of mine worked at the local McDonald’s for a few weeks. One day I dropped in, and there weren’t any other customers. he said “You gotta see this”. He showed me the front of the cash register. There’s no numbers, only pictures of the food items, and words like small, medium, large, etc. They just push the buttons for what you order and the machine adds it all up and tells them how much change to give you back.

      • 5 Scott "Scooter Pie" Cochran AW1 Retired
        August 9, 2010 at 00:47

        Makes me wonder if they ever brought back ASW and we had to go back to a modern ASWOC for a ASW briefing. They might have it set up like a McDonalds drive-thru where we just say we want to order a brief on ???? submarine class and they just push a button to give us our order to go instead of how we used to brief. By the way, I find Home Depot just as bad as Lowes. I try and use the local mom and pop hardware shop as much as I can.

  4. 6 virgil xenophon
    August 8, 2010 at 16:54

    And of course the flip-side of the story is that while when you want to be alone you can’t peel ’em off of ya with a crowbar, when you DO need one they’re NOWHERE to be found..

  5. 9 Kid
    August 9, 2010 at 01:18

    Funny. Well, in Cincinnati, it’s the opposite. Home Depot has the extremely helpful employees. Lowes has the better quality stuff but the people at Lowes are few and far between, and not very helpful.

  6. December 3, 2010 at 04:05

    Thank you. Nice article you got going on here. Got some more sites to link to with a bit more info?

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