I’ve been absent for a while, thanks to the upheavals of moving our home from one place to another. While I have had some access to my computer, most of my waking hours have been filled with logistical challenges of getting kids to school from in-between places and unpacking boxes, boxes, boxes. We are now mostly settled in to the new house and are loving our transformation from the ‘burbs to the city. There are three coffee shops within six blocks (only one of them a ‘chain,’), locally owned restaurants and galleries and hardware stores close by, parks and shaded sidewalks in every direction, and the dog has never had so many walks.
The other day I couldn’t find the toilet plunger (and when you need one, you need one) in any of the boxes I tore open, so I snapped the leash on the dog and walked eight blocks to Shop Well, a corner store that sells everything from lighted Seattle Mariners caps to tupperware to allen wrenches. These guys could give anyone on the television show “Hoarders” a serious run for their money. The ‘aisles’ cleared for patrons are more like deer paths through the woods, and while there are shelves stocked with every item imaginable, the floors are lined with boxes of smaller items as well. After searching in vain for five minutes or so, I walked to the counter where I heard voices (but couldn’t see the owners over the towering displays of pens and gum and candy bars) and asked for help. Without rising from his chair, a heavily-accented man said he would direct me. Without seeing me, he asked me to turn around and head straight forward until I could go no more without crashing into something.
“Turn right and go four paces. Then turn left and take two paces. Then take a hard left and look down at your feet.”
I stuttered at the second direction because I saw PVC pipe and toilet lids of every color hanging on the wall in front of me. Instead of continuing to listen, I made my way toward the plumbing display and scanned left and right, up and down for plungers.
Feeling slightly embarrassed and somewhat bewildered that he thought he could direct me without even laying eyes on me, I hollered back, “I’m lost. I don’t see them here. Maybe I didn’t get the directions right? I see plumbing things, but no plungers.”
A moment later the man rounded the corner, eyes twinkling, pointed behind me where I should have taken a hard left, and cocked his head to the left.
“Sorry. I got distracted by the toilet lids and stopped listening.”
I felt like a child as he simply picked up a plunger and handed it to me.
I’m pretty sure this is my new favorite store. It gives me the beginnings of hives to go inside because of the clutter, but I love that the owner knows every inch of his store so well that he can tell me how to find something as unusual as a toilet plunger without ever getting out of his seat.
I refused a bag and walked the eight blocks home with a big black dog on a leash in one hand and a fire-engine red plunger in the other. Nobody batted an eye.