My relationship with Bunnings is problematic
SOMETIMES it strikes like a flu or cold and has to be lived through. Or perhaps it's like a pleasant addiction, if there is such a thing, something that won't do you any harm but if you become a little obsessed you end up in strife. Call it Bunnings-itis.
Hardware stores used to be small businesses often run by hale and hearty, good-natured individuals who seemingly had the answer to any bit of practical work needed to be done around the home.
They were sort of a cross between a butcher and a manual arts teacher, full of sound advice and knockabout humour, with catchphrases like "That'll do the trick" or "Nothing to it".
Some hardware stores were a little different.
There was Mr Dyer, who had a small hardware shop in Margate; he was also the Redcliffe chess champion at one point. He had a quieter, more tactical way of dealing with his customers, with always a hint that the customer was a pawn in some canny chess manoeuvre.
And there was Gallier's in Scarborough which seemed to have stopped evolving around the Middle Ages. Mr Gallier had a rather frosty presence and the store seemed to have a sepulchral, otherworldly feel, even down to change from the till which was always cold, as if it were stored in a fridge.
Today there seems to be only Bunnings, nearly 300 stores around Australia with more than 30,000 employees.
It's a corporate brand name defining the whole concept of hardware, and I've come to realise my relationship with Bunnings is problematical.
Why I have this delusion of manual competence I don't know, but I return time and again to aisles of supposedly useful stuff.
I went in the other day for some screws I would never use and came out with a nail gun. Why? Bunnings-itis.
It seemed such a canny buy. I told my good friend and she stared at me and asked why I needed a nail gun. I had no idea, really, but suggested she should watch the end of The Equalizer with Denzel Washington and see how useful a nail gun could be when Russian gangsters come looking for you. She thought me a loon, and the nail gun has never left its box. Bunnings-itis.
The most times I went to the Temple of the Deluded Handyperson in a single day was seven.
On the Saturday of a long weekend (always a danger time for deluded handypeople), I was trying to change taps in the kitchen.
Many errors were made; twice I forgot my glasses, which caused me to buy some novelty solar lights and a barbecue cover that didn't fit.
And on this day, the holy people of the Temple of the Deluded Handyperson, the aproned "Team Members", left a little to be desired.
I am willing to shoulder most of the responsibility for the Kitchen Tap Disaster (KTD), but it seemed whoever I asked for advice on this day had about as much of an idea as I did.
It made me think of a comment I overheard that every time this particular person saw Opposition Leader Bill Shorten interviewed, it was like watching a Bunnings commercial.
This day it seemed I got advice from all sorts of politicians, and not just dear old Bill.
Not one straight answer. One shouty, biggish guy, who hardly drew breath as he rattled away, reminded me so much of Prime Minister Scott Morrison it was eerie.
He ended with this classic guarantee: "That should definitely … probably … do the job, most likely."
On the seventh visit, a lovely pair of aproned Team Members guided me about, and faith was restored. Miraculously, the KTD was resolved.
And outside Bunnings there's always the Communion of the Sausage Sizzle, with some community group raising coin flogging a snag in a slice of bread.
I always feel good about this country when I see a sausage sizzle - don't know why, maybe it's an example of citizens supporting each other.
This Australia Day weekend, if you head to the Temple of the Deluded Handyperson, do enjoy the snag sanga but, for goodness' sake, take your glasses and a list.
William McInnes is an actor and author