My pump saga continued this past week. I needed to replace the four 4″ bolts that hold together the compartment that contains the rubber diaphragm, which is one of the two moving parts of this whole miracle mechanism… our Ram Pump.
So, I end up in the hardware store. I locate my bolts. Look for the nuts. A clerk kindly offers to assist. Of course, they are located elsewhere. He points them out to me. I try one out. It does not work. I try another. No dice. I examine the thread on the bolt. Looks ok. I examine the thread on the nut. Hmmm. Looks different. Same size bolt & nut= 5/8″; different thread gage.
I retrieve the clerk, explain the problem. He, of course, goes through the same process I did. I wait.
“I don’t understand,” he tells me. “I took these nuts off the 4″ bolts that just came in. They should fit.”
“Where are those bolts,” I ask.
“In the back.”
“Cause we still have plenty of these old ones.”
“But no nuts for the old ones?” I ask.
“That’s right,” he says.
“Ok. Can I have 4 of the new bolts please?” I attempt to shortcut the matter.
“Just a sec. I’ll have to check with the boss.”
The boss comes. He goes through the same process. “Maybe you can find nuts at the other hardware store,” he says.
“Can’t I just buy the bolts you have in the back? The ones that fit these nuts.” I ask.
“No, we want to get rid of our old stock before we put the new stock out.”
“But these nuts don’t fit these bolts.”
“Well, we ran out of the old ones.”
“This is nuts,” I say.
“No, the old ones”, he says.
I bolt to the other store.
After I have both my bolts and nuts, I head over to the post office to pick up a package my sister has sent us. I need to open it so they can decide if I need to pay duty. I cut it open with the knife I brought specifically for this purpose, having learned from before how hard it can be without. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. Maybe they are afraid of somebody going postal.
Anyway, I open up the box. My sister has sent 1/2 dozen books, some coffee filters, some facial wipes for Sandra and some Triscuit crackers (also for Sandra).
The man picks up one of the books and asks me, “What is this about?”
I answer, “I don’t know. I haven’t read it yet.”
“Is it for school?” he asks.
“No.” I say.
“Is it about computers?”
“I don’t know. Let me look.” I respond. I look. “No. It is just a story.”
“Are they all stories?” he asks.
I’ve caught on now. “Yes,” I say, “just stories that my sister liked, so she sent them to me.”
He looks at the crackers and the filters. Writes down on a slip of paper 180.
“A hundred and eighty dollars!?!?” I blurt out. “What’s that for?”
“No, a dollar eighty”, he says. “That’s a dollar for the books and eighty cents for everything else.”
“Ok. Great, thanks!” I say, a little embarrassed by my outburst. I put away my knife, pack my sister’s thoughtful gifts into my backpack, pay my duty and exit.
Finally, I am at the phone company to pay my bill. Gotta stay connected. Like most places these days all around the world, crowd control consists of stanchions and ropes or tapes to form lines for people to follow to part with their money. It’s very orderly. Sheeple chutes, I like to call them.
I open the door and enter. It is chaos. The stanchions are there but the ropes are missing. People are just standing around, bunched up, jostling for position to be next to pay their bill.
“What’s up?” I ask the security guard.
“They took the ropes away for a display on the weekend and didn’t bring them back.”
“So it’s been like this all week?” I ask, incredulous. Today is Wednesday.
“Yes”, he says.
“Can’t you find a piece of string or twine or even masking tape in the back?” I wonder aloud.
“I looked,” he says. “There is nothing.”
“I can’t imagine why nobody has fixed this yet.”
“It has been a big problem,” he confides in me. “Yesterday a couple of people had to be thrown out because they were pushing and shoving and making a ruckus.”
“Wow,” I say. I am astounded, not at the ruckus, but at the allowing of three days of confusion for lack of a rope.
Suddenly, the guard’s eyes light up. “Listen up everyone,” he shouts above the din.
“See these things here?” he says, pointing to the stanchions. “I want you to imagine that the ropes that is always here is here now. For those who don’t know, those ropes go here.” and he runs his hand through the empty space, tracing the snaking, back and forth line that is the norm for sheeple gates. People shuffle into place. I join the line. As I move inexorably to the front, I watch as new people come in. Most actually fall into place as if the ropes were there. Those who don’t are directed, not by the guard, but by the others in line, to fall in line. What’s really cool about it is that they don’t use words to direct the newbies, they use the same hand signs that the guard did when he drew in the imaginary ropes.
I give a thumb’s up to the guard. He has a smile a mile wide. I think they should promote him to GM… Imagine that your phone line runs here.
I pay my bill, take my books, filters, crackers, bolts, nuts and head home.