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World-class absolute extreme hardware


Photo: Daily Wrestling News
When you do a Google image search for the term "world class," you're apt to find photographs like this one.

I stopped by the supermarket today to buy dog food, and after going up and down a couple of aisles, I found myself asking a question that needs an answer: What is the difference between “crisp” and “crispy”?

Then I walked past a sign that said “pistachio nuts.” As opposed to pistachio—what, exactly?

Then I drove home and saw a sign that said “children at play.” Where is “play”? Why doesn’t the sign simply say “children playing”?

It must be the same reason that a blinking roadside sign in a construction area advised me: “Work area ahead.” Blink. “Use caution.” The word “caution” seems to me more strongly stated without the “use.”

I saw the word “absolute” quite a bit on my drive, as in the company “Absolute Construction.” I’m not even going to try to understand that one, but that word has flummoxed me for years ever since my newspaper days—specifically, an occasion when the area’s congressman visited our paper to meet with our editorial board. He and his aides swept into the conference room, and I held out my hand to shake his. We hadn’t seen him for a while, so as I held out my head, I said my name. “Absolutely,” he replied. It became a running gag in the newsroom.

Back to my drive home: I also won't try to understand the sign I saw in front of a local “extreme hardware” store. I get in my head a picture of Charles Manson with a welder’s torch.

Then I got home to watch the news. In a commercial, an auto dealership owner described his business as “A world-class dealership with small-town values.” What exactly does “world class” mean? Do the salespeople don formal wear? Do they speak in multiple languages? Are car shoppers treated to Champagne and caviar? Does the dealer sell Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Ferraris and the like? Actually, I think they sell Chevys. But however they do it, it’s “world class.” The owner has been around the world, visiting automobile dealerships on every continent, just to make sure his dealership would astonish people in, let's say, the Lesser Antilles, where there may or may not be an auto dealership, especially a world-class one.

But how can it be world class if it has small-town values? And what are those values, anyway? Do the dealer’s salespeople tell the potential customers, “Look, we’ve got to make some money on this car so we can stay in business. Here’s what we paid for the car: $27,850. But because of our small-town values, one of which is being transparent with our neighbors, we can sell this car to you for $26,850. That’s the very best we can do. Oh, and here's some free coffee, and help yourself to the doughnuts.”

Here’s a real small-town business: My neighbor runs a hardware store/auto garage about a mile from where I live. I buy all my hardware from him, unless he doesn’t have it, in which case I go to another locally owned store. But when I go into my neighbor’s store, I pull a stool up to the counter and we talk about various things: what’s going on in the neighborhood, who's sick, who died, who's moving, the state of the local economy, cars—we always talk about cars—and whatever topics other customers talk about when they slide into the conversation. The way my neighbor runs his store reflects small-town values, and I always feel entering the store takes me back to somewhere in the mid-60s.

Whether he runs a world-class hardware store is not for me to decide.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
nodressrehersal
Aug. 5th, 2014 11:11 pm (UTC)
Pistachio ice cream, silly.
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 5th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
Nuts!
vivitalia
Aug. 6th, 2014 12:09 pm (UTC)
Or gelato. I bought pistachio gelato the other day.

One of my favorites is that sign "Men Working." It doesn't say working at what, and often, one of the construction workers is female. Furthermore, should we sit up and take notice that the men are working at all, as if it's unusual enough to require a sign? I'm not a rabid enough feminist to think that's the case.

People throw words around like pennies, these days.
patrick_vecchio
Aug. 6th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, I see an increasing number of signs that say "Work crew ahead." Ten years ago, though, the signs said "Men at work," as opposed to "working."

I like your line about words as pennies.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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