Never Stop Improving

I spent much of today painting the preschooler's closet. When we moved in, the closets were board shelves and pipe for a hanging rod, original to the house. Four years ago a Container Store annual sale came around and we had custom shelving installed, but I only had time to paint our bedroom closet before the installer came, then I had work travel to finish summer 2019. I thought I'd be able to get to what was then the guest bedroom closet in October.

Painting a closet sucks. I have fond memories of painting the living room. Sure, you have to cut in and do all the trim work, but it's not a confined space, you can use a roller and long pole for most of it, and you can have a TV on to trick yourself into thinking you aren't really working. The living room took me about the same amount of time as the closet and I got through a rewatch of most of Parks and Recreation. Today I listened to one podcast wherein the hosts disparaged having a blog versus a Substack newsletter1. Between that and not being able to figure out why the right earphone wasn't working, I gave up and just listened to my thoughts. Unfortunately, that mostly meant a medley of Daniel Tiger songs flitted into my consciousness as I painted.

I am surprisingly angry at how long one closet took. It's in part because whoever painted the whole house CoverGirl beige also painted the closet ceiling beige, too.

Then I drove out to the Hendersonville Lowe's to pick up a storm door I ordered online yesterday. Getting things delivered from or returned to our closest store, the Dickerson Pike Lowe's, has been a nightmare and I needed to wrap up this door project, but since we don't own a truck picking a door up ourselves is a little like a river crossing puzzle. If I hadn't seen two different Lowe's storm doors at my parents' house last weekend I might have not persisted, for reasons I'll make clear now.

A little over a week ago I returned a different door with a wrong-sided hinge (this was my mistake) to the aforementioned Dickerson Pike Lowe's in a fit of frustration and rage after waiting three weeks for its correctly-hinged replacement to arrive. I received an email letting me know it was rescheduled for another three weeks out the night before the delivery date and, according to corporate customer care, someone at the store lied in their case notes about me calling them that night to schedule the return for the wrong-sided hinge door. The timestamp was conveniently about fifteen minutes before close or, as we call it in my house, when we put the preschooler to bed. I absolutely would not make a phone call at that time. I finally, finally got someone at the store on the phone, a nice guy who was trying to help me, but because everyone else kept gaming their numbers and pushing my request off, the best he could do was to pick it up three days after I was to have eight 3-year-olds, their siblings, and parents at my house. I was in full-on fuck it mode, had Stephen cram the box into our small SUV, and I cancelled the replacement order on my phone while I stood in line at returns.

My beef with the Dickerson Pike Lowe's is not really with the Dickerson Pike Lowe's. It's about Taylorization of work, and systems designed to actively discourage people from speaking to a human. It's 2023. There's the Internet. If anyone under 60 is still calling a store or calling corporate customer service, it's because there's no phone tree or chatbot that could possibly help them. I shouldn't have to say, "Speak to a human," three times through my gritted teeth to get help. Punitive metrics like time on hold used against understaffed stores just mean some frazzled part-time worker is going to lift a phone from the receiver just to put it back on hold, resetting the clock, which happened twice before I spoke to the guy who was actually trying to help me.

Today, after I scrubbed the sweat and paint spatter off myself this afternoon, I had Stephen take the car seat out of our small SUV again, then I drove up to Hendersonville and sat in curbside parking while a young associate wheeled out the door. I tried a few configurations, looking for the one that had worked for the return. The configuration that gave me the most visibility wouldn't let me do anything but put the car in park or reverse. The one I ultimately went with meant I needed to shrug my right shoulder up every time I hit a bump down Gallatin Road to keep the whole door from rattling.

My neck is angry with me tonight, but the to-do list I've been holding in my head is a little shorter, so as long as this ibuprofen kicks in I'm going to call it a win.

1: I'm not necessarily anti-Substack. I follow almost fifty newsletters hosted there. I just don't believe a POSSE approach is "quaint."

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