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as seen on tv There is a wonderful place I've heard about. I've seen smiling people telling stories of their triumphant forays into the world of home repair, operating with knowledge and expertise they never possessed until they encountered the friendly, eager, and qualified professionals at The Home Depot. Whenever I see these television commercials, I am immediately a believer. "Yes," I proclaim, "how could so magnificent a retailer exist in today's fallen world? Its a dream come true!" I am taken in by the idea of such gregarious and skilled people, resplendent in orange aprons, the veritable ephod of a blue collar priest, existing only to serve me in selecting the right purchase, the proper tool, the correct fastener, and the knowledge to turn my willing cash into a home improvement miracle. How could anyone not immediately be racing to their nearest temple of Do-It-Yourself, wallets in hand, reaching just to touch the hem of the apron of one of these oracles of hardware and know-how? But I have dreamed a dream, and now that dream is gone from me. I have climbed the mountain, and found it staffed by high school shelf-stockers, who scatter like roaches from the light when a customer is within a stones-throw. Gone is the hope I once carried for the mythical Home Depot of television lore; the smiles, the knowledge, and the service all departed. Have I been betrayed? Was it merely a dream, an apparition or mirage that haunts my memory? Or was it a carefully fabricated lie, manufactured kindness and experience, a bait-and-switch, ruse, or artifice, designed to bring me within range of ringing registers with my all-to-eager debit card? As Dorothy, awakened from her journey to Oz, I look around, confused. The aprons are the same, the aisles look familiar, the products I'm sure are unchanged from this picture in my mind. So much is the identical to my dream. All that has changed are the people. Like a cathedral without clergy, or a safari without a guide, there is no sense in entering unless you know what you are doing, and where you are going, unaided and alone. Because alone is certainly how you will be.

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