It’s For Your Own Good

My husband has been lusting after a pair of pewter oil lamps he saw awhile ago at the Shirley Pewter Shop in Williamsburg, Virginia. We make the hour drive to Williamsburg about every other month, just to get out of town for a few hours, and no visit is complete unless we’ve made a stop to see his oil lamps.  I suggested that we buy each other those lamps as an anniversary present to each other. My husband was so excited, he was like a little kid. He couldn’t wait to get them, so we stopped in Williamsburg on our way back from our anniversary trip to D.C.

The pewter shop was temporarily out of the lamp oil needed to burn the lamps, but they told us we should be able to get it at any hardware store. On the way home we stopped at Lowes, a big-name hardware store chain, and went looking for the oil. None was to be found. We asked one of the store personnel, and she told us that they had taken all the lamp oil off the shelves and would not be selling it anymore. “Why?” I asked. Her reply stunned us.

“It’s too dangerous. People light oil lamps and forget to blow them out and they could start fires. All the big chains have stopped carrying lamp oil. You won’t find any at Home Depot, Target, WalMart, or any other of the big chains.”

Standing in a store that sells power tools, we were being told that we couldn’t buy lamp oil because we might not be careful and set our house on fire. But we could feel free to buy an $800 multi-cutter table saw that could chop us into little pieces. Would they be coming to our house to make sure we were wearing our safety goggles?

Lowes also sells gas stoves. What if someone leaves the stove on? Couldn’t that burn down the house? Maybe they should stop selling stoves. Stop selling bathtubs. You could fall asleep and drown. Obviously, candles should be done away with, too. You can have a romantic flashlight dinner instead. I’m so glad Lowes is looking out for my well-being since I’m too careless to do it myself.

We got back in the car feeling a little panicky. Our beautiful oil lamps. What good were they without lamp oil? We decided to try Taylor’s Do It Center, a little hardware store close to our house, just in case they hadn’t gotten the memo that consumers are not to be trusted to look out for themselves. They not only had the brand we needed, they had another brand as well, and they had both brands in multiple sizes. Clearly, they don’t care about us.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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28 Responses to It’s For Your Own Good

  1. Robin says:

    The world of big box retail has become such a strange and uniform place. I’m so glad local hardware stores (who don’t care about us…lol!…loved that) haven’t become extinct. 🙂

  2. Margie says:

    I guess much of the blame falls on people who do stupid things, lawyers who represent people who do stupid things, and a judicial system that rewards people who do stupid things. No wait, there is also the government that tries to protect the people who do stupid things and the retailers who don’t want to get sued by people who do stupid things. Which leaves a few smart people held captive in a system peopled by … well, you get the idea.

  3. pattisj says:

    We like to support Taylor’s when we can. Glad you got the lamps. And oil!

  4. Huffygirl says:

    I love this Susan. It’s like those crazy disclaimers you get when you buy a new appliance. In the book that came with my dishwasher: “Do not use dishwasher to store gasoline.” with my new stove top “Sitting on stove top in riveted clothing may scratch surface.” Yes, because sitting on the stove top is a good idea otherwise.

  5. Dor says:

    I was really shocked about your experience at Lowe’s and as I was reading I kept thinking, “Now what do we do?” We have a couple of nice oil lamps too. Lowe’s has some really warped thinking there. Can’t trust people to be careful? I love this post! Thanks for sharing.

  6. notquiteold says:

    I never thought of it that way! Stop & Shop must really hate me…they sell both Olive Oil and Lysol, and they are probably hoping I will confuse the two.

    • Coming East says:

      Reading the words “Stop and Shop” reminded me of where you live, NQO. I used to shop at one of those stores so many years ago, the one in Willimantic when we lived in Storrs. It’s like a lifetime ago.

  7. Isn’t all of that the most ridiculous stuff? Just like the “Caution: Contents Hot” on coffee cups and the labels on hair dryers showing you not to use your hair dryer in the bathtub. Evidently, none of us consumers has any common sense anymore. But then again, neither does my bank who has Braille on the drive-through ATM!! Huh????

    • Coming East says:

      Really, Braille at the drive-through? How funny is that!

      • Oh gosh, I got off on a tangent and totally forgot to tell you I love the lamps!! We have 2 oil lamps for when the power goes off and I actually enjoy lighting them on those occasions and sitting by lamplight in the evening. To Lowes, I promise I’ll be careful too!! 😉

      • Coming East says:

        We have an old hurricane lamp that was my mother’s, Mama, and I had been wanting oil for that one, too. Living on the coast, you never know when a storm will spring up and you’ll lose power. I’m glad you like my lamps.

  8. E.C. says:

    Well good gracious, maybe we really are becoming a country in a ‘Nanny State’. That’s ridiculous.
    I’m glad you found the lamp-oil. I hope you’ll be careful with it. 😉

    • Coming East says:

      I’m sort of petrified to use the lamps now, EC, because I’m worried Lowes is right about me and I’ll burn us up. I will only use them when George is around. Then I can blame him if wemgomup in flames.

  9. haha…you have me rolling and chuckling. This was so well written and I could tell you were really wound up in a very logical sort of way. Well done. Is this the “height of the ridiculous?” So glad you have a happy ending and perhaps you had better stock up… but store safely…omg…it’s contagious.

  10. judithhb says:

    So the ‘mummy state’ is alive and well in your neck of the woods too. We are surrounded by such nonsense here and one has to wonder where it will end. Enjoy your lamps with George and I suggest you stock up on that oil just in case. :I

    • Coming East says:

      I was a little confused by your comment, Judith, because I didn’t know what wrapped up dead people had to do with my post, but then I rethunk the word mummy. Coming from you, it has an altogether different meaning. LOL!

  11. It is a little crazy the reasoning behind some of these ‘it’s for your own good’ decisions. Yes you say, there are plenty of other ways to set your house on fire. Anyone think it more likely that smoking, lighters and candles might be more risk in the wrong hands? Enjoy your lamps, your oil and your laugh at this safety-obsessed world of ours. 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks, Eye. Um…has no one heard of smoking in bed causing fires?m apparently not, because last time I checked, stores were still selling cigarettes. Of course, not Lowes.

  12. Big Al says:

    Yea! Oil for the lamps of Virginia! Love Taylor’s.

  13. lexy3587 says:

    It’s like the ‘caution, coffee may be hot’ labels… people who fail the darwin-survival-test (really? Coffee? hot? who drinks that?) will find someone to blame. They’re suspicious that you might be trying to sue them, in the long run. After all, what if you touch the flame with your fingers, and didn’t bother to read the ‘caution, contact with lit oil-lamp-flame will cause burning sensation’ label? Glad you found a less ‘caring’ store to shop at 🙂

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