Everytime we attempt any kind of activity resembling home improvement, we inevitably feel dumber in the end than we did when we started.
Today’s task was to hang a shelf in Lexi’s room. This shelf has two slots in the back where nail or screw heads fit to secure the shelf to the wall. We didn’t have screws that would work, so we went to Lowe’s. This sounds like an innocent enough shopping list, doesn’t it? All we needed was screws.
As we entered the store, we found ourselves in front of a 12′ x 40′ wall of assorted screws. Wood screws, brass screws, metal screws, self drilling screws, all coming in at least 100 different kinds. All we naively knew was that we needed screws.
Elian and I both have college degrees. We looked at this gigantic wall of screws for at least 15 minutes trying to discern which kind we needed. We read the signs and narrowed it down to wood screws. But there were at least 100 different types of wood screws to choose from. Some had round heads, others flat heads; some were smooth and then grooved, others were completely grooved. Which did we need? How would we know? Then there was the confusion over sizes. How long did we need? What diameter did we need? How would we know? There was a measuring device painted on the display, and we estimated that we needed screws that were 5/16 in diameter. The only problem was there were no screws labeled 5/16. Packages said things like 12 x 1-1/4. What does that mean? There were more than 12 screws in the package… At one point, Elian looked at me and said, “We’re fairly educated people, aren’t we?” We finally just guessed, bought some screws and took them home. Luckily, they worked.
What I want to know is, how can such a simple task of buying screws be so complicated? Is there a Screws 101 class out there the rest of the world has taken in order to navigate the variety of screws before them? No. I know we are not the only ones who have stood bewildered in the screw aisle. In fact, there was at least one person in every aisle of the store scratching their heads, trying to figure out what they needed for their “simple” Saturday project.
So, why do the screw companies assume we know what all their labeling figures mean? We don’t! We are inept handy people that are too embarrassed to ask the Lowe’s associates to help us to figure out how to buy screws.