I bought a microwave at Home Depot. This was not my intention, nor was it Jacob’s, strolling the lanes at retail witching hour (9pm at most Florida locations). Jacob needed a drywall screw gun. Fate proposed we needed something else.
Cast your eye down the center line gap running end-to-end inside your local home construction store, dear reader—cleaving the aisles in two, the negative space where incompetent handcart pushers and low-decibel work vehicles dance about overladen with materials. Then gaze down to the polished concrete floor and what will you find, in piles plopped along this stretch? Dear reader, you have discovered the deals. Overstocked porcelain tiles; now-unfashionable faucets; Magic Chef microwave ovens in the post-collegiate season.
Spotting this cache of 8 such products in a humble cube, Jacob and I crouched to investigate. One model in particular, a stainless-steel clad jobby with no obvious defects, was 55 bucks. This struck us as too good to be true for a new, unopened box of electromagic. We hailed a passing associate to verify how true it was. He was a small man, not tough but wanted to look it, was clearly used to taking shit from people and not taking it well. “Why is this particular model so cheap?” we asked. The others in the cube were not nearly as marked down. A comparable model with decidedly more plastic fascia was 80. He started walking our way, “Oh those? We’ve had that shit here for months.” He didn’t seem annoyed at the question, but simply aggravated by the whole of society conspiring to leave this microwave in his inventory for longer than expected. He crouched down and glanced across the three visible sides for a barcode to scan. “Yeah, I can check the tag. Where’s the fucking tag on this one…” He put a hand on the far side of the box and yanked it toward him, pulling it off the box below and flipping it 90 degrees onto the floor at the full speed of gravity. Jacob and I traded a full second stare at each other before turning back to the code hunt, which we decided was better left solely to the professional. He gave the box another hostile flip: an upsetting and hilarious thing to watch. Finally, he found it, scanned it and told us with unwarranted satisfaction that this model was 8 months old, and gave the box a final smack for exactly one discernable reason (namely that his boss was not present). Given how long microwaves are supposed to last, and that this particular unit hadn’t even been returned, I decided I would take my chances with the damage recently inflicted upon it. With all credit due to innovations in packaging science, the only record of this traumatic experience is the written one.
They did not have a drywall screw gun in stock.