I’m a single mother and I own my own home, which means that aside from advice, tips and suggestions from friends and the internet, it’s up to me to maintain and fix my house. Homes don’t come with an owner’s manual and my father never sat me down and taught me this stuff so there’s been a lot of learning on the job for me since I bought my own home in August of 2011.
One thing I realized pretty quick is that I have a superpower when I walk into big box home improvement stores: I become invisible. When I used to go to stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s with my now ex-husband, we’d immediately receive attention as the customer service employees asked the man with me if he needed any help. I suppose even then I was invisible, but I didn’t realize it. Now that I’m single, I’m usually ignored for a good portion of my time in home improvement stores. Eventually someone asks me if I need help but by then I’ve usually found what I needed because I’ve learned not to expect someone to be there to answer questions.
I gave myself the name Invisigirl because there have been many times in my life when I’ve seemed so invisible in the midst of other people that I’ve almost had entire trays of food dropped on me while walking through a restaurant because the server didn’t see me. Admittedly, I’m not overly tall, but I don’t think 5′ 5″ is too short to see either. My height is however, too short to reach certain items and I often have to improvise to reach what I want.
Such was the case in Home Depot this past Wednesday when I was in need of the sanding pads for the random orbit sander I already had in my cart. There was an entire wall of sanding pads and the packages contained from 5-20 pads. As I’d never used a sander before and was going to use it to sand my deck prior to priming, I had no idea how many I’d need so I didn’t want to get a huge package. Unfortunately, Home Depot’s clever marketing layout involves placing the packages with 5 pads on the highest rack where I couldn’t reach them even on my tiptoes.
After a few minutes of struggling to reach the top packages or knock one down with another package I was holding, I decided I was going to buy the package of 5 even if I discovered later I’d needed the easier to reach 20 disc package. I’m stubborn and determined and I refuse to let a store bully me into buying the bigger, more expensive package just because I can’t reach the size I need. Yes, I could have asked for help, but as there were two clerks standing nearby chatting and neither of them had offered to help, I was dead set on getting the sanding discs without help.
To that end, I walked around the center island of table saws, drills and other power tools and across the aisle to where the levels and yard sticks were hanging up. I grabbed a metal yard stick, strode back across the aisle, reached the yard stick up and easily moved the sanding disc package forward and off its hanger. I did that for both grit sizes I needed and then set the yard stick down on the shelf just in case any other short girls or guys needed the magical yard stick of tallness to reach that top row.
Quite satisfied with my problem solving skills, I then headed to the deck stain aisle in search of an oil-based stain for my deck that was desperately in need of some TLC. Stains and paints took up an entire aisle and trying to figure out if any of them were oil-based proved frustrating, especially since no one walking by asked if I needed help. Deciding I’d get my stain somewhere where I wasn’t Invisigirl, I went to the checkout, paid for my items and left Home Depot.
I stopped at Sherwin Williams on the way home and as they’re a smaller store that specializes in paint and stain, I was helped as soon as I walked in the door. The friendly clerk showed me where the oil-based, semi-transparent deck stains were, helped me pick a color that closely matched the current color of my deck and then went in the back to mix it up. There are times when I don’t mind being Invisigirl, but getting what I needed to repair my deck, wasn’t one of those times.
I left the store with a gallon of stain to get me started and the reassurances that I’m not actually invisible. I knew I was set to start the deck project the next day, but that’s an adventure I’ll leave for another time…