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.