Are you beginning to wonder if I will ever stop writing about my dining room chairs makeover project?
But today I want to tell the story of how I got one of the dining chairs fixed. It had a very loose leg. In fact, it was so loose that Mark just flat out said, “Don’t ever sit on that chair.” When I inspected it further, I noticed that it was missing two bolts — one at the front loose leg and one at one of the back legs. You can see the where the wobbly front leg is missing a bolt below:
This past Saturday morning I put the chair and Charlie in the car and I headed to our local hardware store. I deliberately arrived as soon as the store opened because my experience is that when shopping with Charlie, I need to make our expeditions short and sweet to ensure that I emerge from the trip still loving him. Shopping right when a store opens means fewer other customers which means it will be easier and faster to get help from the employees.
I took the chair to the front desk, turned it upside down, and explained the problem to the man working behind the counter. He directed me to a different counter. The man behind this second counter studied the underside of the chair and then disappeared into an aisle that was lined with bolts. A couple of minutes later he came back with two bolts in hand. Without speaking, he went to work. It became clear that he was going to fix the chair for me.
He put the first bolt in and then took a long time inspecting the place where the second bolt would go. Then he started tightening everything. He was so precise and deliberate; we were there about fifteen minutes watching him work. In the end, he told me that he couldn’t replace the second bolt because of a crack in some little wood piece and some threading that is bare somewhere but there’s a nut that can take care of that and so on and so forth and most of it I really didn’t understand. I did understand that he was confident he had tightened all the other bolts enough so that wobbly legs wouldn’t be a problem. Then he said that if there ever was a problem with the missing second bolt, then I should come in to find him and he would make sure that it was fixed. Then he told me his name and his work schedule.
The final tally for all this personal service: $1.55 for the replacement bolt. And here the bolt is in its $1.55 glory:
This situation reminded me of a very similar experience with a locally owned hardware store where my parents live. When we were visiting them over Christmas, I stumbled upon a child-size rolling suitcase at a thrift store. Given that I had lugged all of Charlie’s stuff in my own carry-on bag on the airplane on the way to my parents’ house, I was thrilled at the prospect that Charlie’s things could all go in his own suitcase on the way back. And I was pretty sure Charlie would feel oh-so-big walking through the airport with his own suitcase. While the suitcase was only a few dollars, it had a broken handle. I was convinced it could be fixed, I just wasn’t sure how we’d do it. So we went over to the local hardware store with the suitcase, showed it to one of the workers who examined it and went to work on it. Twenty minutes and a couple of dollars later, we rolled out of there with a like-new suitcase for Charlie. And he was thrilled.
Both of these local hardware store experiences have something in common — I brought in the project I was working on. I did that because I’m no good at explaining things like nuts and bolts and screws and gizmos and dohickeys and I figured it would be easier for the employees to suggest a solution if they could actually see the problem rather than rely on my description. That said, I did not expect the hardware store employees to actually fix my problem. In both cases, I got the strong sense that the employees wanted to fix the problems; they seemed to be having fun.
And now that the chair leg is fixed (and we’ve basically decided on a color for the chairs), I can finally focus my attention on finishing this oh-so-big dining room chair project. Thank goodness, right?