Lost in Lowe’s

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad


From the moment I entered the lot, the confusion was overwhelming. The parking spaces were longer than usual and my tiny black coupe was dwarfed by a sea of trucks. I parked unusually far from the entrance, and sat in my car for a few minutes to calm my anxiety. I played with my phone and checked for coupons, using any distraction I could muster before going into this alien place. Once I stopped panicking, I trekked to the door and grabbed a large cart, which was completely unnecessary given my shopping list:

- (2) 100-watt light bulbs

- (1) random screw that I needed to fix a corner cabinet

- (1) small, weird battery that I couldn’t find anywhere

- (2) belt racks to hang in my closet

- (1) large screwdriver

The cart itself was a comfort. It was something I could lean on and use to push my way through the labyrinth of unfamiliar products. When I was married, I designated hardware store visits to my ex because he loved it. It’s possible I stepped foot in a Home Depot like once in 1992, but since then, nada. So here I was, in need of a few “easy” items, but quickly realizing that I was a fish out of water and suffocating rapidly. I was lost in Lowe’s.

I can only imagine what the other customers were thinking. I was standing at the entrance completely frozen – intimidated and slightly angry. Why on earth don’t these stores have apps that act like maps to guide you through them? I was jonesing to pull up a Lowe’s app that would let me type in what I needed and show me the way. But no, I was left to my own devices, and slowly but surely started to push inside. Fortunately the light bulbs had their own aisle, so I just marveled my way across all of the fancy new LED lights until I found what I needed. Then I decided maybe my house needs a light makeover, and what the hell are these LED lights about anyway? I must have wasted at least a half hour studying and learning lights. I still have no idea what the big deal is, and no, my house will not be receiving a light makeover.

When it was tool time (the screwdriver), I thought that would be a slam dunk easy find. Instead, I was presented with The Great Wall of Screwdrivers, and my only knowledge of screwdrivers is that they are made of orange juice and vodka. I knew I would need help, and like a maniac I began to search for anyone wearing a blue apron. After an eternity elapsed, I located and pounced on a worker who was doing inventory, and she was thrilled to answer my questions. I quickly learned that a Phillips screwdriver is for screws with the cross on the head, and a flathead is for screws with just one slot. I felt empowered and masculine and alive. I ascertained I needed a Phillips screwdriver and went for a slightly nicer one because damn it, I deserved it.

Time in store so far: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Items in shopping cart: 3

Items still needed: 4

My list had dwindled to small, impossible items. I quickly gave up on the belt racks when I perused their lackluster options and decided to venture to Bed Bath & Beyond for those. (My safe place.) The odd battery and screw perplexed me. I speculated that somewhere in the maze was a battery wall, and eventually I found it. I sat there with my tiny little dead battery in my hand and compared it to at least ten that all looked identical. My bitter blue-aproned friend was nowhere to be found, so I made a big boy decision and threw a battery into the abyss of my cart. The screw became my final quest, and I was getting nervous again.

I don’t know how I stumbled onto it, but suddenly I was in an aisle full of free range screws. As in huge bins of screws and nails and things like that. It was endless. I could feel my stomach rumbling, and knew that this might be a lost effort. And then, like an angel, this little old man asked me if I needed help. I practically grabbed his face and said, “Bless you, BLESS you, old man. You have saved me from what would have been a certain death. Workers would have found me here in the morning – frozen like Jack Nicholson at the end of ‘The Shining.’” But I didn’t. I just handed over the screw with a smile and seconds later he returned with a little baggie containing a few screws. I gave him an emotional mental hug, and scurried toward the cash register.

Time in store so far: 2 hours, 37 minutes

Items in shopping cart: 5

Items still needed: 2 (but will get at B B & B)

While in line, I noticed the amount of time I just wasted. I was both amazed and bewildered. However, I also realized that I just figured out the basics of Lowe’s. I could now return and get another tool, say, a hammer. And if I needed to, I could find that little old man to find me a specific nail. I am no longer the helpless other half of someone. I will park my car with pride next time and sashay through those front doors and grab an appropriate-sized cart and not drench my shirt with sweat in the process. I understand Lowe’s to a partial somewhat degree now, kind of.

The slogan of Lowe’s is “Never Stop Improving,” and as I stared at that plastic bag, I realized that those words are going to be the mantra of my post-divorce me. Lowe’s has set me free.

Be a Part of Our Story

Join our continuously growing community of dads, families and industry experts. We’ll provide education, anecdotes and advice for wherever you might be in your journey to fatherhood. Sign up to our newsletter:

Sign up to our newsletter