What do you like better, Best Buy or the Home Depot?

I hate getting lost in a big store and having to find somebody to help me find whatever it is that I’m looking for. Home Depot and Best Buy are the two examples that pop up first in my mind. There’s really no reason why any store should be as big as these two are. Most of the whole building is usually just a vast empty space with giant ceilings, I’m guessing to purposefully make you feel completely insignificant as you get sucked inside, wandering aimlessly, having no clue where to even begin searching for a flathead screwdriver or an Ethernet cable. They want you to get lost. They’re hoping that by not being able to find whatever it is that you need, you’ll accidentally stumble upon whatever it is that you really don’t need, but it’s right there, and you want it, so why not just pick it up also?

Most of the time I try to do all of my shopping online. I can just type in exactly what I need, and buy it, no hassle. But every once in a while I’ll find myself in the middle of doing some chore or project where I need something immediately and I can’t wait the three to five business days for Amazon’s super saver shipping. Between the Home Depot and Best Buy, I can usually hope to eventually find whatever it is that I need. But it’s always a huge headache.

Home Depot is the worst because from the moment I walk in the store I feel like I’m being taunted for not being enough of a man. Just as I’m entering, some guy in work boots is exiting, and he’s carrying like eight giant pieces of wood with just one arm. That guy’s probably going to build something. Probably a house. A storage shed at the minimum. He definitely knows what he’s doing. He probably just walked in and got what he needed without even thinking about it. The whole trip probably only took him three minutes. I wouldn’t even know what to do with just one piece of wood. Now that I’m actually in the store, I’ve already forgotten what it was I came here to buy in the first place.

Inside I’m just completely overwhelmed by tons and tons of stuff that I know absolutely nothing about. Seriously, I’ll walk down every aisle and basically everything I see, I don’t know what it is, let alone know how to use. And just because the aisles are labeled doesn’t mean that it’s any help. If I’m looking for a screwdriver, having three aisles labeled “tools” doesn’t really help me out that much. If I do happen to accidentally reach the screwdriver section, I’m presented with thousands upon thousands of screwdrivers to choose from. How is anybody supposed to make such an impossible decision? It’s almost a guarantee that whatever I pick won’t be the best choice, the one that I should have picked under ideal circumstances.

Best Buy is a similar type of nightmare, but instead of being intimidated by professional builders and fixers, I feel like I’m being intimidated by professional cool people. Walking into Best Buy is like walking onto the set of Fast Five. There are speakers blasting cool music from every direction. There are giant TVs where the walls should be. Every employee has some cool goatee and is showing some wannabee DJ how to correctly use some state-of-the-art turntables. Instead of that guy carrying the lumber, somebody’s exiting the store carrying a plasma screen TV while texting his friends on the new Galaxy Smart Pad while riding on a neon green Kawasaki motorcycle.

There aren’t any aisles in Best Buy, just loose collections of stuff, and hanging way up in the air are the most unhelpful banners that do a terrible job at telling you where it is you’re going to wind up getting lost trying to find whatever it is you came here to buy in the first place. “Electronics.” Really? That’s a section?

At least at the Home Depot you’re surrounded either by professionals or by people in the same boat as you are. But when I have to go to Best Buy it feels like half the people there are just there because they’re bored and wanted to go somewhere bright and shiny to spend their day. Yeah, maybe I’d consider buying one of these cameras if there weren’t a hundred kids playing with all of the test models.

Inevitably I’ll give up and have to ask somebody for help. And everyone always looks super busy. I’d ask that guy over there, but he’s moving boxes. Those people over there are available for questions, but they’re surrounded by people just like me, waiting for guidance. I’d stand around and wait my turn, but I just know that somebody’s going to come out of nowhere, after I’ve been waiting for ten minutes, and interrupt with a question like, “excuse me, where can I find the tools?” because, hey, it’s just a fast question, and I’m sorry, were you waiting? I’ll just be a second. Can you show me where they are? I’ll be right back. And then I’m back to the start.

Probably the biggest fear I have is asking somebody for help that doesn’t actually work there. There are always a few people wandering the aisles that just look like they belong on the store’s payroll. If they’re not working there, they should be. And if I say “excuse me, do you have a minute?” they’ll give me a death stare like I’m probably the ninety-fifth person that’s asked them today.

I really just have to make it a point to make sure that I never go back to either of those stores ever again. If I must, if I really find it necessary, I just have to limit my visits to no more than once a year. Oh, and I’ll never ever accompany someone else who has to run an errand at either location. Then I just wind up wandering aimlessly waiting for whoever it is I’m with to find his or her way out alive. It’s funny though, the few times I’ve gone on such a pointless trip I usually wind up just trying to look at the products, free to browse without having to actually buy anything. The employees there must have a radar and a strict policy against this type of non-committed shopping, because when I know I’m not going to buy anything, somebody’s always coming up to me every ten minutes of so. “Can I help you find something?” “No, I’m just waiting for my friend.” And they give me this look, like, “OK, then get the fuck out.”