Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Around here, we think of hardware as equipment, often useful, which is electronic and which often contains internal microprocessors, or is designed to be connected to other devices which contain microprocessors. In short, computer equipment. Geek stuff.

But there is an older definition of hardware -- nuts, bolts, nails, screws, mysterious stuff made of wood and metal and plastic, an enormous assortment of utilitarian goods, tools to manipulate these things in the physical world. Hardware is sold in hardware stores, places sacred to those who would build or make or fix or otherwise affect the sharp corners and shredded splinters of reality.

Which brings me to the point of this post: a big recommendation for the blog of Howard, a hardware store worker who has a penchant for hardware haiku. Howard's view of people and the world, filtered through the lens of the hardware store, provides some interesting, indeed fascinating, reading. His recent post about the musician is a flash of insight into how need and misconception juxtapose and result in incomprehension and anger:
A musician accosts me by the glue
at least I think she's a musician
judging by the two guitars she has on her back.
"I just need a small piece of wood cut for me."
I explain that we're a hardware store and not a lumber yard.
"Lumber yard?" she's distressed.
I do my best to explain that we can't just carry one type of wood,
if we have the piece she needs then we need to carry the piece
everyone needs
and we're a small hardware store.
She doesn't understand the concept
so I put it in its simplest terms:
In for a penny, in for a pound.
She doesn't seem to like my answer and leaves in a huff.
I hope she writes a song about how hardware stores break hearts.

Full disclosure -- I know Howard and see him a number of times a year. Therefore, I am not unbiased. But I ask you this -- how can you not respond to something like this?
A guy walks into a hardware store
with an incredible black eye.
"I need a pair of safety goggles."
Er, isn't it a little too late?

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