Wednesday, May 16, 2012

emotional Craftsman rollercoaster

There are certain things I count on to always be there. Solid points of reference that help me get through this fly-by-night world. Christmas with my parents, the spring and fall swap meets at the speedway, fourth of July all dependable and timeless. Another stalwart anchor since my childhood is Sears and Roebuck. Since the pioneer days the Chicago institution has been the retail standard. My connection is the Craftsman line of tools.
I have always had a good, confident feeling buying them and enjoyed the returning of them even more. Lifetime warranty. Driving a tow truck, I always get the random tools when we junk the unclaimed impounds. No matter how rusty, Sears takes them in exchange for new tools.

Today I had two ratchet handles and a pair of locking pliers that were rusted solid from 6 years bouncing in the bed of the repo truck. Off the Sears Hardware.

Blazing fluorescent signs announced the store was closing. I was upset. This was a Sears Hardware, not at the mall, not filled with housewives and families. Damn it!

I went to the aisle of ratchets, stepping over clerks packing up all the inventory. The part numbers were different, but I got the closest matches to the 3/8ths, 1/4, and pliers.

The exchange went smooth and I told the cashier how sad I was to see the store shut down. Back outside I felt the handles, they didn't feel right. The castings were different and the lettering looked poor. I checked the labels.


Outrage. My feelings went from sadness to outright anger. "You deserve to be out of business!" I shouted to my empty coffee cup on the dashboard.

I know the larger sockets have been made overseas since the mid 80's, but the god damn ratchets were made 20 miles away in East Windsor. It is almost not worth returning American tools for the new, shittier Chinese junk.

Sears will die soon, killed by Wal Mart and general laziness in keeping up with market trends. Craftsman was their last good thing. Will my son ever get to feel the pride of working with tools made in his own country? I hope so.

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