Boxed in

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

OK, I don’t want to sound like an a-hole, but I’m really reaching the end of my tolerance with the big-box home- improvement stores.

When I lived in Sparks, if I needed something hardware-y, I’d head down to Shelley’s True Value. Sometimes they didn’t have what I needed, and in cases like that, I’d go over to Home Depot. Now, I live in Reno, and Shelley’s is 10 miles away. That’s 20 miles, an extra $3 a trip. Sucks, but it’s the truth.

I don’t think I’m telling stories out of school when I say the customer service in Lowe’s and Home Depot is horrible. There’s rarely anyone nearby to answer questions. The people are nice, but there are too few of them, and often those people at the cash registers act like they had to fail a test to get a job. Nobody knows me by name. Nobody.

Now, Home Depot’s got this four-station thing where customers can scan their own items. I refused to use it for a very long time, seeing that it would eliminate cashier jobs. Get it? Instead of having four people working four cash registers, they have one person working four cash registers.

But this weekend, I made the leap and rang myself up. It was only six items to repair my vegetable garden’s irrigation system. No single piece cost more than 25 cents. Well, needless to say, the bar code was missing from the three 90-degree corners.

The cashier comes over. I’m the only customer on any of the four scan-it-yourself stations. She’s smiling when she says, “Just go over to plumbing and get the six-digit number …”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but I’m the customer. You go get the number.”

“I can’t leave the station.”

“Then call somebody.”

She did. It took an extra 10 minutes. Fine. They’ve eliminated three cashiers and the knowledgeable floor person, but if I can sit here and type the keywords, “half-inch PVC, 90-degree,” why can’t the cashier?