I heard a door slam behind me and a gruff voice over a loudspeaker say, “Erin, report to Hardware!” What was happening? Where was I? And what the heck was hardware? I looked down, hoping it would provide a clue.
This must be a dream, I thought as I saw I was wearing a blue vest with “Erin” on the name tag. Not a dream—more like the scariest nightmare! I worked at Lowe’s! I realized, looking around. Yep: cement floors, industrial round lights on the ceiling. My biggest fear had come true. I thought of the trips with Dad to Home Depot growing up. They probably only lasted 45 minutes; Dad was like a kid in a candy store. But forty-five minutes to a kid is an eternity.
“Erin to Hardware!” the voice repeated, sounding annoyed. It took me at least ten minutes to find the hardware department, and I was extremely confused. Wasn’t the entire store a hardware store? Frantically, I combed the aisles. Finally finding it, I looked up and saw my first customer. The man was my father! I became nervous, and hoped my internal hysteria didn’t show. Dad didn’t accept incompetence, either in his hobby or in his career. Which were woodworking and the power tool industry. Great, I thought.
“Erin, you work here?” Unfortunately, yes. “I need seven wing nuts.” He might as well as speaking Japanese! I’d heard the phrase before, but what a wing nut was I had absolutely no idea. More to the point, I absolutely didn’t care.
My palms wet—dripping, almost—and my hands trembling, I heard a bark. What on earth? Why was there a dog in Lowe’s? This whole thing was getting weirder and weirder. One bark became two before I recognized it: it was my dog Maggie! And she wasn’t in Lowe’s—she was in my bedroom! The whole awful thing had been a nightmare!
“Erin, awake already?” Mom asked as my heart pounded in my chest. Awake? I might never sleep again!
(Photo: Courtesy pixgood.com)