Posted On: Friday - January 29th 2021 4:57PM MST
In Topics:   Curmudgeonry  Economics
This can be considered a continuation from the old Peak Stupidity post For want of a rubber washer, 45 minutes was lost.. This time, it was a fender washer, not enough difference to warrant another blog post, except for the Kung Flu tie-in. What CAN'T the COVID-one-niner do?!
The point of that previous post is that the draining of American manufacturing/human capital is making it harder to get things done as a DIYer. That is Do It Yourselfer(s), who were, in former America, probably # 1 in the world, yet we wondered, with a self-rebuttal, whether this ability would shift to China.
The local hardware stores are mostly gone, with Ace stores a middle ground between those local guys and the big-box stores. My problem was that I had forgotten that fender washer when I got the rest of the parts. I came close to manufacturing a part that would do the job (didn't have to be round, just take up the right space), when an errand I did for a friend took us close to a Fastenal. Well, I'd forgotten about those guys, but when it comes to that chain, they have any nuts/bolts/washers/screws, well, OK, fasteners, that I could ever want. (One often must buy in bulk though, but I could deal with that rather than spend 1/2 hour extra going/coming/at the big box store.)
Nope, I should say "HAD" everything ... because their closed sign telling us about the COVID sounded like this was permanent. It said wholesale customers only could make appointments or something, and get on the internet.
This is the problem, as related in the old post of ours. You can't just do every damn thing on the internet. If this little project was already working, and I wanted to engineer a bunch of them (not the idea, in this case), sure, I could wait for parts that I'd specified carefully, weed out the crap, and get a supply going. I just wanted a damn fender washer, though. On to the big box store it was, then.
I'll give 'em this, the big box store has a good hardware selection. You can get onesies of these washers, so I picked out 4 of each of 3 sizes of fender washers*. You just write down the 5-digit SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) on the bag. OK, but no pen was there, and I didn't have one. Not so bad, the first 2 digits were the same, so I repeated the 3 sets of remaining digits in my head on the way to the register. The point was to avoid the 10-minute price-check process.
Luckily there was almost no wait at the customer service area, as I needed to return 2 things I had thought I might need but didn't anyway*. "Hey, no pen, I gotta give you these numbers quick." Well, she didn't get half of them right, but I didn't care. 2 bucks, 3 bucks total, whatever, time is money. I could tell she wasn't getting it straight when one of them came up with "bolts XXX XXX " on the register. Who cares?! Just take the money. Were it one of the really uncaring black girls, I'd have been out of there.
I, even without a face mask on, realized the we couldn't communicate this way with the plexiglass. Since this cashier wore a mask for her job's sake, even with no foreign language problem (very common nowadays) she was coming through about 2 x 4 (like a 2 by 4 upside the head). I had to lean down to the 8" gap in the shielding down near the counter, put my face halfway through, and give her the SKU numbers! Peak Stupidity, my friends, is not just a URL anymore.
* That's what it's coming to, building up your own hardware store, it seems, just for when you might need something. How efficient is that though? Or I could go into the hardware business, or we could have a small community one close by, but we're going back to the beginning here...