Every time I pass the monstrous orange behemoth that is Mitre 10 Mega, I feel a pang of nostalgic sadness for the Mitre 10s of old. They were blue and cheerful, well-presented, and had lots of kind, evuncular retirement-aged men, who would patiently answer any hardware-related question you threw at them.
I suffer from a condition I like to call 'hardware anxiety'. I'm relatively handy for a woman (unlike many, I had the chance to learn from my dad), but I've still got plenty to learn about the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of DIY. And I hate going into many of the major hardware stores to ask questions. They expect you to know what you're doing. Some practically refuse to serve you unless you have paint-splattered shoes and a builder's buttcrack. They demand to know what grade of tanalisation I want for my timber. If I knew that, I wouldn't be asking, for f*ck's sake.
I end up feeling silly for asking my amateurish hardware questions. My partner's hardware anxiety is worse than mine, though - being female is an excuse for lack of DIY knowledge, but blokes are expected to know such things by virtue of testosterone. At my local Bunnings Warehouse, being female is an accepted metaphor for DIY incompetence - they run basic skills classes for ladies only. This is the one downside of an otherwise great initiative. I proposed putting my partner in a wig and skirt so he could enrol, and he wasn't completely averse to the idea.
I just want the empowerment of power tools. I need advice on which grade of sandpaper to use. I demand to know whether I can use acrylic based paint over enamel. Most of all, I long for a day when a woman can ask her hardware questions without fear, shame or an exposed buttcrack.