Southern Charm

We walked into our local Home Depot and were instantly greeted by an orange smock. “How can we help you today?” “We’re looking for mowers.” “To your right, talk to Bob.”

Alex went straight for the rechargeable eco-friendly models. “It’s good for the earth, honey.” “Yes, but it’s not good for my back. You feel how heavy this thing is?” “You’d save on gas,” she pointed out.

My wife’s persistence almost got to me until Bob arrived. Bob knew more about these machines than a John Deere sales manager. “If you’ve got a small, flat lawn the rechargeable ones are fine, but the cost offset versus your basic Briggs and Stratton two-cycle self-propelled just doesn’t add up….” He had me at self-propelled.

While Bob pulled down a gas mower for us, we wandered to the garden center. Alex curiously noted the different selection of outdoor bushes and trees—no hibiscus or lemon here like in LA’s Home Depot. In LA, pretty much anything would grow if you watered it enough, but here you had to take into account the frosts and freezes of winter.

Alex had a tendency to experiment with her plantings. Meanwhile, all I could think about were the holes that would have to be dug for each one she picked out (and then re-dug for the ones that died). Fortunately, there was another helpful orange smock nearby to assist in our arboreal adventures. She sold us on azaleas, magnolias, ornamental cherry trees and crepe myrtles. Of course, Alex threw a few others in the mix just for fun.

Some weeks later we were explaining to a Georgia native the anomaly of a Home Depot with employees who were not only readily available, but nice, and more importantly knew what they were talking about. “It’s probably because a lot of Home Depot execs live in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. The stores never know when one of the bigwigs, or their family, will pop in to shop—or snoop. Either that, or it’s just good old southern charm,” he said with a sly smile.

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