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Chucks, Metro, and Home Depot

April 29, 2005, 3:05 AM

First of all, on Monday, my off-day, I managed to get a lot accomplished. I went to the bank, to the Toyota dealership to get windshield wiper inserts (you can only get them there since the front wipers are so large), and also to Staunton Mall for shoes. I had said before that I was going to make my Airwalks last through A16 before I replaced them. A16 was about nine days past when I went shoe shopping.

Now do you remember a few weeks ago, in the April 15 Journal entry, which is six entries above this one (if you’re reading this on the archived page) or below this one (if you’re reading this on the Journal main page), when I tried on the Chucks while I was down in Blacksburg? Well, I looked at the photo that I took with the cell phone from that time, and decided to give the Chucks another try-on. So I tried them, and what do you know – I liked them! I ended up getting myself a pair, though I didn’t like that I couldn’t lace them all the way up.

So this led me on a bit of a wild goose-chase around Staunton. In pursuit of long enough shoelaces (the Chucks came with 63″ laces, which only left an inch on each end when laced to the top – I needed 72″ laces), I went to Super Shoes, Wal-Mart, Athletic Annex, Hibbett Sporting Goods, A&N, and even Claire’s (it was a long-shot). After all of them, I came up empty handed. So I had my too-short laces, and figured out how to make them work for now. I looked at a file photo from the Million Worker March of a person wearing Chucks, and laced them that way. I ultimately found the long laces I needed online, at a place called The ChucksConnection. They are currently in transit. Once they show up, I’ll lace all the way up.

And let me tell you… those Chucks feel so good on me! I felt like I’d worn them for ages. I think I’ve found a new shoe for me. Goodbye Airwalks!

While I was out in Staunton, by the way, I got a photo with my cell phone of the old Staunton Wal-Mart, which closed in 1995 when Wal-Mart moved into the current Supercenter building, which I have shopped in, and also later worked in.

Old Staunton Wal-Mart

The old Staunton Wal-Mart is now a warehouse for Federated Auto Parts. After being Wal-Mart, a third of the building was used to house the ill-fated Sun Television and Appliances store, which didn’t even last a year before closing. In (I want to say) 2001 or 2002, Federated bought the building and is using it as a warehouse. I think it’s interesting because that building looks more like a Wal-Mart now than it did when it was a Wal-Mart. Think about it – the building is gray. The space where the sign goes is blue. The stripe is blue (I’ve seen Wal-Marts where the stripe is blue, not red). The only foreign color is that orange stripe, which is one of Federated’s colors. When it was a Wal-Mart, it was one of the last stores built with the brown color scheme (note the 1990s-style exterior). Tan outside, brown sign space, brown stripe, and brown, orange, and red stripes under the sign. And it wore this color scheme through the five-and-some years as Wal-Mart.

Funny, though, that it looks more like Wal-Mart now than it did when it was Wal-Mart.

But I digress.

Then on Wednesday, I went to DC. Highlights include meeting my friend Tristan in person for the first time. He’s a fellow railfan, and I stopped by and visited him at his work. So that was interesting. Then there was a surprise meeting in DC. While I was at Metro Center station, sitting on a Glenmont-bound Breda train in the station, I saw Joey Lawler, who lived down the hall from me in McGraw-Long my freshman year, on the Shady Grove platform. We waved. Then I realized this would be a good say-hello opportunity. So I bolted. I got off the train, went over the tracks via the mezzanine, ran down the escalator on the Shady Grove side of the platform and looked around. No sign of him. Figuring he might have gone downstairs, I went to the lower level, and found him. We got to talk for a few minutes before his train (Orange to Vienna) arrived. I hadn’t seen him in more than two years, so that was really good to run into him.

Otherwise, my pictures came out well, though at this point I’ve not had a chance to download them from the camera.

Then today after work, I went over to the new Home Depot in Waynesboro, which had its grand opening today. And I have to say, after my experience, I’m not particularly inclined to go there again. First of all, the amount and intensity of signage regarding shoplifting made me feel less than welcome. And I wouldn’t even think of stealing in the first place. They have a prominent sign about it right on the front of the store. They have a big message about it on the restroom door. They even have something on the urinal walls. They might as well just say, “Dear thief, er, shopper, we think you’re a criminal.” It really irked me. It also says something about Home Depot’s clientele, if they feel they need to put this much signage about people stealing merchandise in their store. Then to get the full Home Depot experience, I bought something. I bought a Coke. The store was equipped with like six or seven regular registers, plus a set of four self-checkouts (NCR Fastlane). The line for the one and only register they had open was stretching way down the front aisle (the place was still hopping at 8:30 PM on a Thursday). So I opted for Fastlane. This is Home Depot’s Fastlane system:

Fastlanes at Home Depot

So it looks like a Fastlane should look. And of four Fastlanes, only one was open, and there was no attendant to be found. And the Fastlane was showing a not-recognized message from an earlier customer who had given up. I tried in vain to get an employee to clear the error message. The person running the one open register said she had no access to the Fastlanes. No other employees were willing to assist, either. So I fixed it myself. I set my drink down on the bagging area scale, and then picked it back up. That cleared the error message, so I could check out. And it was Fastlane. Same female voice – even some of the same messages. Still, the fact that I was not able to get help really irked me.

I have to say that all in all I was not impressed with the new Home Depot in Waynesboro, and I can’t say I can recommend it to friends and family members. I can’t even say I’m particularly inclined to go back there again myself, for that matter. I’ll stick with Lowe’s in Staunton (and Waynesboro when it gets built) for all those kinds of needs. Home Depot just turned me off.

Then to top off a day that included a stressful time at work (think Murphy’s Law) and a lousy Home Depot experience, there was a cat on the road to my house standing there like a deer in the headlights. I slowed and stopped, while trying to get the cat off the road. I generally don’t like running over small animals in the road, and try to shoo them off or avoid them if possible. Last small animal I hit was a skunk on US 11 coming back from Harrisonburg in 2003 that I spotted too late to miss. Talk about a real stinker. Thankfully, it was raining that day, so the smell didn’t last too long.

Now with most domestic animals that I find lingering in the road, I usually use the horn on my car to shoo them off. One or two short blasts on the horn usually sends the animal running to the side of the road. I usually don’t even have to slow down. With this cat, it didn’t do any good. So I had to slow down to a crawl. I send a series of short, staccato blasts with the horn. That usually does it, too, if the first attempt fails. No avail. Stupid cat. Then we went in for the kill, so to speak (the cat emerged alive and unscathed, just to let you know, in case you’re thinking to the contrary). So I leaned on the horn for a few seconds. Some response, but not enough. So I leaned on it again, and stayed on it until I could proceed. That cat moved to the side of the road.

Web site: An article called "Buyer beware at liquidation sales" - something to be mindful of when you go bargain hunting

Song: Labyrinth Zone, from Sonic the Hedgehog

Quote: "And I'm not particularly inclined to go there again."