Last weekend I was attempting to wrap up a few projects around my house in preparation to put it on the market. Nothing huge, just a few things to improve curb appeal and to make my house scream, “I am far superior to the bank-owned home two doors down that you can buy at a fraction of the price.”
Buying a house in this market reminds me of crossing the border from Tijuana back into Southern California. You’re sitting in the hour-long line at San Ysidro and you have an ashtray full of change… how are you ever going to decide who to buy Chiclets and tamales from? The selection is vast and the price is right.
I am somewhat frugal. Please don’t misunderstand me, nothing other than Bobbi Brown touches my face, and my dog, Riley, eats strictly organic specialty chow that cost approximately a zillion dollars per bag because of his skin allergies. But in everyday life, I am mindful of the value of a dollar.
So when I‘m inspired with a project idea, or something needs to be done around the house, I take a do-it-yourself approach. Perhaps this is because I believe that I am far more artistic and talented than I actually am. Or it could be because I am the daughter of immigrant, and I was raised in a home where you don’t pay someone to do something you can do yourself. This would also explain some very unfortunate haircuts my brothers and I had growing up. Another contributing factor to my DIY tendencies could be the fact that I literally sit in an office starring at a computer 10 hours per day. Having an outlet for some good old fashioned creativity has probably saved me from going homicidal on idiot co-workers a time or two (you wouldn’t believe what working at a law firm for years can do to one’s mental health).
In general, my experiences at stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, True Value Hardware, etc. have been very positive over the years. The associates are quick to offer help, answer questions (even if the answer is wrong 26.7% of the time), and they have been consistently friendly. Additionally, the employees usually go above and beyond to assist me in assembling things, cutting things, loading things, basically doing as much of the project for me as humanly possible before I take it home. In fact, last year when I was building a wine rack, I was too cheap to buy an expensive new saw blade, so I had the guy in the lumber department literally make about 50 cuts for me (which turned out beautifully by the way).
So in looking for some help this past weekend and attempting to schmooze a few tile cuts out of the employees (as opposed to renting a saw), I was expecting everything to go smoothly. And to my delight, it did. However, after returning home I realized that I would need one more piece cut. The next day, after my soccer game I stopped by with my lonely tile, and asked the guy in the rental department if he would make the one cut for me… and much to my shock, he said, “no.” He then explained that I would have to rent the tile cutter I needed for my project. Whhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaat???? This was unheard of; I had been weaseling “helping hands” out of this place for years. What was the difference right now?
In the back of my mind I had an idea what the difference was. Even when I first walked through the door, I was aware at some level that instead of being in my dressy work clothes, with my golden retriever in tow (who by the way is the perfect accessory to any outfit), I was in my soccer jersey, shin-guards, and cleats. The finishing touch on my classy look was having turf particles stuck to my leg (must have been a rough game). It is no secret that looking “your feminine best” is always beneficial when feeling lazy. When I’m in my yard-work clothes, the service I receive is courteous, but never over-the-top. However, if I enter the store wearing a skirt and heals, it is a pretty safe bet that when I exit the store, someone else will be carrying my purchased items out to my car.
Just as I suspected… when I returned the next day with my wayward tile, I walked directly back to the tool rental section, and asked the same question. This time, coming after work, the employee made the cut for me without any hesitation.
Whether selling a house in an oversaturated market, buying Chiclets at the border, or ensuring needs are met when visiting the local home improvement store... I guess there is something to be said for curb appeal. Maybe the lesson to be learned here is that when service doesn’t meet your expectations, it might be time to step up the curb appeal, and trade that sports bar in for a push-up bra.