Drop off at the Highland Ace

June 26, 2007

Last week, I needed to get my pocket knife sharpened. It's serrated, so I didn't have anything that would get it sharp myself. It just happens that there are two and only two hardware stores in town that I know will bother with a serrated blade. One is close to my house, but it burned down last year and hasn't reopened. So I made the longer drive to Highland Ace Hardware.

From the front counter, I was directed to the machine shop window in the back right corner. I walked back, and stood to the side of an old man who looked a lot like the elderly farmer guy (Eustace) in the "Courage the Cowardly Dog" cartoon.

Eustace from Courage the Cowardly Dog.

I daydreamed as Eustace tried to get the guy behind the window to understand what tube he needed for his lawn mower tire. I thought the counter guy might be a friend or a relative, because he was so rude to Eustace. No one would be that rude to a stranger. Especially an old man.

Eustace was telling him, "No, that one's too wide. I need 16 inches, but only and inch and a half or two inches wide."

"You didn't look to get the measurements before you came in?"

"No. I know that it's sixteen by something around two inches though. This one won't work."

"But we have HUNDREDS of them! Would you go to the auto parts store and not know the make and model of your vehicle?

This is a poor analogy. Not only did Eustace know the make and model of his lawn mower, but he knew one of the dimensions of his tube. By the way, if those numbers don't make sense, give me some slack. I've never owned a lawn mower, and didn't really know what they were talking about very well.

Counter guy wandered to the back to try to find someone who might be able to talk some sense into Eustace. Right as he did, Eustace noticed exactly what he wanted on the shelf next to him. He picked up the last two boxes, asked if I would let counter guy know, and walked off.

Counter guy came back a couple of minutes later, having realized or been told that the tubes were right there on the shelf, where Eustace had found them. But despite being at least 45 years younger than Eustace, I couldn't immediately get him to realize that I wasn't the same guy.

"There was two boxes right there. I know I saw them earlier. They should be right there."

"Uh, yeah. That guy found them. He's good now."

"Let me come around. I'm sure they were right there."

"They were there. That old guy found them when you were in the back."

"He left?"


"Well shoot. We had what he needed. He didn't have to leave."

"He found them while you were in the back. He didn't leave empty handed."

There was a pause where he began to understand. And then rudely, "so what do you want?"

I told him that I wanted to have my knife sharpened. As I was opening it to show him the serrated blade, he said, "Give it here, I'll go show Gene." When I handed it over, he chastised me for handing it to him with the blade open but not locked in place.

He came back and said that Gene could do it, but not now, as he was occupied with a chain saw blade. I would have to go to the front and have them write up a ticket.

He came around the counter to walk to the front with me, and he started to hand me the knife back. Then he stopped himself, opened the blade, and handed it to me just like I had given it to him.

"Gene says it will take off some serration, but not much. Just a red cunt hair's worth." I noticed that he was missing a lot of teeth.

"Well that's okay."

When I was almost to the counter, he said, "maybe I shouldn't use that expression. It might have offended you."

"That's okay, I'm familiar with 'cunt hair' as a unit of measurement." Noting the color of the cunt hair is new to me, and I thought a rather nice touch.

He had me fill out my own order form, and by the time I had written down my name and phone number, he had forgotten about me altogether.