Sunday, May 21, 2006

Home Depot HS

This weekend I decided to partake in the most dreadful task I find myself doing each spring, re-finishing my deck. I power-washed the old layers of sealer off the deck, and went to go buy stain, a roller head, and a pan for the stain (note: I didn’t buy into any of the pre-conditioners all the manufactures suggest). I asked several different people where I should go to get these materials; everyone looked at me like I was from Mars and replied, “Home Depot.”

I have a long history with the Depot. I worked there in college, my mother worked there for 15 years and my brother is still a part-time employee.

Everyone knows that Home Depot is the place to go for any home repair need, but everyone will also admit they hate going there. (At least on LI, I’ve heard the experience is different out of state).

I went to Home Depot, shopped for over an hour. The process was very impersonal. The employees were stuck in their department and no one could answer my questions as to which stain was best for me. There were hundreds of choices to make while in the aisle of stain. Anyone, even people who hate Home Depot, know they have everything. It can be daunting even for a former employee.

The store was crowded. This was not a shock because it was a beautiful Sunday morning, a perfect day for a do-it-yourself-project. After an hour of moving from department to department I went to cash out. The lines for the cashiers were ridiculous. One line was moving quite fast, although you had to have a commercial credit card to move through that line.

I have no patience with what I perceive as incompetent adults (as everyone who has ever worked with me knows) and I gave up. Although my cart was full I left the store. Leaving the full cart behind, I drove (at over $3 a gallon) five miles down the road to a smaller hardware store.

I then walked into the small hardware store. The whole experience lasted no more than 10 mins. I bought everything I needed. Received immediate help (with a smile) and was on my way home. They didn’t have every type of stain imaginable, but the one I picked looks great. All together I spent around $20 more than I would have at Home Depot. I got something out of it. Remember I left Home Depot empty handed.

OK why am I writing about this on the blog?

Well as I am always obsessed with educational philosophy I began to think of the frustrating impersonal experience I encountered at the hardware superstore and compared it to how students in a large NYC Public HS must feel. The schools are overcrowded, there is little connection between departments, there are many choices but unless you have AP classes (commercial account) there is little guidance. Frustrated students (carts full) are leaving without their intended goal (a diploma).

The small store experience was what I know the small school experience is like. I was genuinely welcomed, I got what I needed. My questions were answered and the employees were sure my cart was full. Small schools like the product in the small store did cost a little more however the frustration level was absent.

If I had to go to Home Depot HS everyday I would join the huge number of American high school students and drop out too.

1 comment:

jd2718 said...

"I began to think of the frustrating impersonal experience I encountered at the hardware superstore and compared it to how students in a large NYC Public HS must feel."

Is this really reasonable? I understand you like your small school and may prefer small schools in general.

Politicians are unable to stay positive about themselves without attacking their opponents. But would you agree that educators might be able to stay positive?

And the extended analogy seems iffy, at best. Especially in the context of NYC where it is not at all clear that the new small high schools are delivering what many expected.

Jonathan