RV-Writer.com - Non-Apologist Humorist and Fiction Writer with the Mostest 

Ace Hardware – Littleton Colorado – 7/22/2016

Everyone knows I’m a world class red neck!

Which means I often shop, or go to fancy restaurants, wearing whatever I happen to have found hanging in my closet that morning. In my opinion, very little planning is warranted for a trip to the store. It’s not about being uncouth or vulgar, which, on occasion, I can be. But, I prefer to think of it as “being comfortable!”

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 was no different!

At approximately 5:30 pm, I had another string of catastrophic failures in my rental home, which resulted in a pilgrimage to the local Ace Hardware store.

Yes, rental – see what I mean – redneck!

Anyway, on this stormy day, every light bulb in the house decided to burn out at the exact same time. No, there wasn’t a power surge that I know of. Everything else in the house was just fine. I could have sat in the dark watching television (which is how I prefer to watch television in the first place), but my son decided that really wasn’t an option for him.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first catastrophe I’ve experienced in this house either. I honestly think the place is haunted, or gremlins are hiding in the walls or something! Last month, every ceiling fan except the one in the laundry room decided to quit working at the exact same time (no kidding). Can you imagine the bathrooms after a recent visit from a redneck in need with no ceiling fans?

There I was, no lights in the house, wearing an old, faded, worn out tee-shirt with large holes, highlighted by the white tee-shirt underneath, and matching holey jeans. I’m not even sure I brushed my hair that day. Probably not, given the looks I was getting from neighboring commuters as I drove the long distance – about a mile – to Ace Hardware.

One baby looked over at me and started crying, so I figured, poor thing must need its bottle.

Thankfully, Ace Hardware was easy to get to. As I said, it was only a mile away, but the problem was traffic. 5:30pm on Denver roads is something that has to be experienced to be believed. I think families move here for the express purposes of having 80 year old grandparents teach teenagers how to drive. Ugh, it was a long drive!

Anyway, Ace is located in a conveniently enough spot, right on the corner of the large strip mall with everything from Sport Clips, to Yoga, to Chiropractors. I can get a haircut, new light bulbs, and a convenient chiropractic adjustment right after a yoga class (have you ever done a yoga class? Believe me, chiropractors are necessary!).

The parking lot is big enough, if you drive a Prius! I, as it turned out, was driving a Long Bed, Crew Cab, Chevy 2500hd pickup (redneck remember!). Parking is NOT convenient for larger trucks. But this is not limited to Ace Hardware by any means. City folk, or as one of my friends likes to call them, “yuppies” drive tiny cars. Imports to Colorado, like me, drive whateverintheheckweareabletoafford, vehicles! Some of them pretty big!

Well, After cramming my truck into an inconveniently open spot between two yuppymobiles, the drivers of which seem to think the lines painted on the pavement are suggestions only, I squeezed out without denting the car next to me. It was so cute that I didn’t want to give it a redneck beauty mark!

Unfortunately, as I closed the door on my truck, the end of the light bulb I brought for reference was still inside the door frame. Of course, those bulbs are only about fifty foot long, so naturally it shattered!

There I was, between my beast and the purty little thing next to me, sweeping the parking lot with a broom and dust pan I found in the bed of my truck (what it was doing there I can’t say, but I found a toilet seat in there too!). I cleaned up the mess and walked over to the ACE Hardware entrance. At which time it started to rain – HARD. I was carrying the mostly shattered light bulb in one hand and a dustpan in the other, and getting soaked!

I walked in the door and a nice young lady with a huge smile said, “Aisle 12, also in the back of the store you can discard your, um, old bulb”. Mind reader? Probably!

I thanked her and went in search of the correct aisle. Two trips to the discard area was necessary; First to get rid of the dustpan full of glass, and the second trip after I found the proper replacement. Luckily it wasn’t far. That is a huge store and I only got lost once. Really!

Now let me tell you about light bulbs. I know, you’re probably thinking “please don’t” right? But, I’ll be brief. They suck! Option after option after option. I mean, all I want is an exact replacement. Sadly, they don’t exist anymore. Maybe that’s why my originals all blew out at the same time? ACE had a decent selection and I found what looked like a  suitable replacement. Though the color wasn’t quite right, a little bluish, but the wife seems to like it. So I gobbled up two, plus a bunch of regular bulbs to get my son off my back, and headed like a medieval jouster through the store.

I literally thought about charging through the store to the checkout stand, but my wife wasn’t there to be embarrassed by me, so what would be the point.

I got to the checkout counter and there were two registers open. A young man serving an older gentleman who was replacing some worn out screwdrivers on warranty, and the nice young lady who directed me to the light bulb isle. Well, I wasn’t in a hurry, so I walked to the closest one, with the young man. And… there I stood, for at least 5 minutes, while the young man called for a manager to correct some mistake he made on the register. The young lady just stared at me with amusement. “I can help you if you’re ready sir!” she said politely. Knowing full well I was ready, but I said “Thanks, I’m really not in a hurry.” I mean, I’m nothing if not stubborn. I chose that register and I’m sticking to it!

She must have been married because I received a tolerant smile, and heard several chuckles while she watched me wait. I thinks she thought I was afraid of her or something. In reality, I just didn’t want her getting a good look at all my redneck glory because I had realized my fly was down, and it’s hot here in Colorado in July. Um, underwear? Sometimes!

So by the time I finished my contortionist dance with three packs of light bulbs in my hands and trying to zip my zipper without doing any permanent damage, the nice young man had the register problem solved and turned to help me. I scared him I think, because I was out of breath and the new light bulb was safe and sound –  um, between my teeth. Yes, it was one of the thin bulbs! And to answer your next question, Mr. or Mrs. Reader – NO, I do not have THAT big of a mouth. It would not hold a larger bulb, though my family would disagree!

Checkout went off without a hitch and I bolted for the door. I thanked the nice young lady for her help as I passed, and tried to give her a less missing tooth smile, opposite of what I usually reserve for bad experiences, and headed for my truck.

I carefully placed my new fifty foot light bulbs on the back seat and strapped them in so I wouldn’t have to duplicate this fiasco. Changing the light bulbs when I got home is another story I should tell, as is the true review of the light bulbs themselves. Needless to say, I was standing on a contraption of my own design, consisting of a chair and garbage can, holding on to a really long light bulb, when the light fixture decided it really didn’t like hanging on the ceiling anymore. Not a fun experience – so to speak! Great to have a nurse in the family though – she said I probably didn’t need stitches!

I want to explain for both my readers, and the businesses under review, that my reviews will all have some sort of fictional story behind them. The actual review based on criteria/metrics will be presented at the bottom of each entry. Negative reviews will have more of an explanation in the summary, but I will try to tell the story with context so the reader can understand what is being experienced. If you or your business would like a full review with no-nonsense attached, please contact me and I will be happy to provide!

Full Review

Business Name: Ace Hardware of Highlands Ranch Address: 9579 S. University Blvd. Highlands Ranch, CO 80126 Phone: 303-683-6300

Accessibility/Parking: Well-designed location with good parking for smaller vehicles. Handicapped parking right where it should be, but I did not see an “expectant mothers” spot.

Store Arrangement/Cleanliness: This is a large store with many offerings, products, and displays. Which I like to call obstacles, conveniently placed right in front for all to trip on. Honestly, this is a well-designed store. I am not sure if that is a corporate expectation/design or if individual store owners have the leeway to add personal touches. I didn’t ask for directions to the restroom so I can’t make a statement on cleanliness.

Staff: The nice young lady (I did not get her name, but I will be going back by in a day or two and will clarify) was very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. No issues with the young man either. Those cash registers are a pain in the neck sometimes and getting a manager over to help only took a couple of minutes in all reality. Both staff seemed genuinely interested in helping me, and in getting me through the process quickly, which I really appreciate.

Prices: I did not compare prices with other locations. There are times when it just isn’t feasible to price shop. This was one of them! ACE Hardware does have a rewards card program which I used and have benefitted from on multiple occasions.

Selection: As I said in the story, there were plenty of options – too many in my opinion. However, I went in for a specific item and was able to accomplish the mission. Not being pushed for an up sell of any kind was refreshing too.

Overall Experience: 4 out of 5 stars. Parking lot dinged the experience a little (pun intended)!

Recommendation: Absolutely shop this store. The return policy is obviously good on screwdrivers (some of which looked to be about 20 years old, and replaced with no questions asked from what I could tell) and the staff were responsive and helpful.

I want to thank Ace Hardware for a great experience and for providing fodder for my first Retail Review chronicle!

JL Jones