Tale of The Tape Measures

You’d probably have to be a bit on the older side to remember Builder’s Emporium. It was essentially the forerunner of such outfits as Home Depot and Lowe’s, but it existed in an era when people were more into consistent quality than loads of shit for cheap. Accordingly, after 40-some years, Builder’s Emporium and its parent company, Wickes, went under in 1989. If they could have held on just a bit longer they’d have fit right into today’s retail marketplace. I didn’t often shop at Builder’s Emporium, but I did go in once a year when they were closing out the summer stock. I’d buy up all of the mesquite charcoal they had, usually one full pallet and one partial pallet. One time it was just shy of three full pallets, and the blue vest chick asked, “Are you sure you want it all?”. “No”, I said, “I just make things up as I go along. But I’ll take all of it anyway”.

In 1986 when I was in there to pick up the last of their mesquite charcoal, I picked up a 40th anniversary commemorative tape measure. It, too, was on sale for cheap. Interesting purchase of the day, two pallets of mesquite charcoal and a tape measure. I used the hell out of that thing, and drug it around with me from Southern California to the Bay Area, and from there to Colorado’s Front Range, and then on over the Continental Divide to my adopted home town on the Western Slope.

That tape measure went with us to my parents’ place a stone’s throw from Yosemite National Park, in a misadventure which is quite likely to remain the single biggest mistake of my entire life. I used the hell out of that tape measure there, too, as the progenitors do property maintenance the way Barrack Obama does respect for citizens’ rights. They make noise about it, but then they just tear shit up and leave it that way. When we exited the parental units’ version of hell, it was in a bit of a hurry. Many of my tools were nowhere to be found, as my father has always had a thing about making his anything that fell into his hands. On the up side, I managed to retrieve some things he’d hijacked many years earlier.

After landing, not really intentionally, in Las Vegas, my Builder’s Emporium 40th Anniversary Commemorative tape measure was nowhere to be found. So I bought another tape measure and tossed it into the toolbox that rides around behind the cab of my pickup truck.


It seemed likely to stay there, since (a) the toolbox was locked at all times when I wasn’t actively getting into it, and (b) my father was nowhere to be found and had no idea where on Earth we were. He’d never even seen my pickup truck, wouldn’t look twice at it if he saw it on the highway.

Fast forward to, oh, two years ago or so. I need a tape measure again, but cannot find the one that I seem to remember buying in Las Vegas. Maybe I’d only just intended to buy it, and hadn’t? No matter. I’m not going to search around for half a day or more on the off chance that my head isn’t up my ass, so I buy another.

Of course, while working on the project for which I bought the new one, the Builder’s Emporium 40th Anniversary commemorative tape measure reappears. It was hiding in with some other tools that were hastily chucked into a box when we made our escape from parental hell. Darn it, I knew I’d gone through my father’s toolboxes and other hiding places every week or two retrieving my stuff that had accidentally got put away with his.

Today, in preparation for the run down to the big town to get Amethyst’s ticker tuned up on Tuesday, I took my cool tire step from the shelf in the garage to the toolbox… Tire Steps are  darned handy to have on hand when you own a tall vehicle:


That’s not me, and that’s not my truck. Mine’s the green truck in the photo above, and my hair hasn’t been that short since I was in the Air Force. Today it’s about waist length, as it should be. But there ya go, a photo showing what the heck I’m talking about.

I pop open the driver’s side of the toolbox, and there staring me in the face is the tape measure I bought in Las Vegas.

I laughed because it is preferable to any other response one might have upon realizing that his mind is going.


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