Well, last night I went to Lowes. My beloved had bought 3/8 x 6 in carriage bolts and discovered that he needed 3/8 x 8 in carriage bolts. We are (he is?) currently in the process of replacing the second story deck on the back of a house overlooking the river, so one can see that going to the store to exchange the bolts was vital to the success of this mission. (Yes. I watched 'Act of Valor'.)
Tim gave me a five and asked me to get a water for him. Off I went.
I walked into the store, and the little woman at the return desk took my receipt and there the trouble began. The receipt and the bolts did not match. She got out her little book and she began to mutter. Seems that my bolts were galvanized and the bolts that I'd been charged for weren't, and furthermore, they'd charged me for the wrong size bolts, so it appears that Tim got quite a bargain on the first set of bolts. Since he'd bought a bunch of other hardware, I'm pretty sure that he did not notice that he had saved about $1.50
She flipped through the book to show me the differences in the prices even as I stared thinking, 'Well, surely you are not going to pay me the higher price for the return, so what does any of this matter?' She said very briskly, "I'm not going to take these back at the higher price."
I said, mildly, "Well, I don't expect to receive any more than I spent," thinking 'My God! If I were pulling some sort of scam, I would have not come back in the door with my receipt.'
But she processed the rest of the return, handed me my $2.33.
I hied myself swiftly to carriage bolts (yes, I knew exactly where to go). Along the way I met a former coworker from Tractor Supply, one who'd left some months before me. He asked how my new job was going. "Good," I said. We talked about Tractor Supply a bit, the latest scuttlebutt, about the new assistant manager (the old one quit at the same time I did, and ironically works for the same employer I work for now.) I said, "Well, I enjoyed that job..." even as he said, "The whole company was founded on flawed principals, a corn pone idea that doesn't work in today's world." I gaped a little bit, I'm sure.
I walked away, thinking. Perhaps that's my problem, right there. Those corn pone ideals? The ones that don't work? Don't fit in today's world? The truth of it is this: I believe in them. I was raised to believe in them. They are at the core of who I am.
I walked to the register clutching my two carriage bolts and wondering about this all.
Luckily, I met a very funny cashier. She got out her little price book as we blabbed. She flipped to 'Galvanized Carriage Bolts' and I said, "These are 3/8 x 8." At about that moment, the returns woman happened by to say, "Make sure you're charging her for galvanized bolts...she was not charged for galvanized bolts the last time." The cashier said, "I am," pointing to the heading at the top of the page. I thought, "This woman thinks I am dishonest."
As she sped away, satisfied, the cashier and I continued our transaction. She was a talker, like me. She was funny, like me. Before it was over, we'd shared a good giggle about brooms, and about husbands, and all sorts of stuff that had nothing to do with the carriage bolts and the bottled water.
I walked across the parking lot feeling reassured that goodness and humor and hard work are not completely out of the picture. I got into my green truck and drove back home.
I answered Tim before he could ask. "That return took a bit longer than I thought, because those bolts were priced wrong. And then I ran into some people..."
He took a long pull on his water. After 15 years, he's just about used to me.