Various dazed customers wander through Home Depot’s aisles. One of them identifies an employee by his orange apron, walks up to him and describes what he’s looking for. He doesn’t ask where he can find it, he just describes it, “Mortar for tile around a bathtub.”
The employee answers, “Aisle 14.”
Another customer: “A wireless doorbell.”
“Go all the way down and take a left. They’re on the right beside the smoke detectors.”
“A ratchet that can get into small places.”
“Aisle 27, near the end.”
My turn: “A peephole.”
He looks at me like I’m stupid.
“For a door.”
He looks at his feet, still somehow communicating that I’m stupid.
“Like this.” I dig out the old peephole that I’d removed from my front door earlier, a cigarette-sized cylinder with a lens on one end, and hold it up to my eye trying to simulate how one would peer out into the hallway when someone has knocked on his door. Without the door though, it looks like I’m miming someone looking through a tiny telescope.
“See. The problem is that this one has a hole in it, . . . which is kind of ironic I guess.” I hold it out for him to inspect.
He doesn’t look at it. “Aisle 35, next to the doorknobs.”