Last evening (12/29/09), when the temperatures had dipped into the single digits upon my leaving work at 6pm, my husband called me to inform me that the water had frozen (due to a lightbulb being out in our outdoor pump set up) and the fuel oil had gelled (the oil tech was enroute). I realized that the heating tape that we had intended to install on the plumbing had not yet been purchased, so I figured while I was at Home Depot, I could grab it to help with the water freezing issue (Our plumber had told me to get the braided heat tape as it was more effective and had less risk associated with it). On my way in, I stopped to ask a customer service agent where I would locate such a product, and he directed me to the plumbing aisle. He said "There's an associate down there than can assist you." I located the braided heat tape but there were no pre-packaged kits or pre-cut strips in the length needed, and it clearly said "Ask an associate for assistance" (it needed to be cut, in addition to needing the end, the plug, and the other items required.) The associate was assisting a male customer (I would assume...I wasn't eavesdropping on the conversation), and not wanting to interrupt, I was waiting patiently for him to finish with that customer. Another male customer approached the wall with the joints and elbows, and the associate said "Hey man, what can I help you with?" and he said that he was looking for something specific, the associate showed him where it was, resumed his conversation, turned around, looked me SQUARE IN THE FACE, said NOTHING, looked back down, and moseyed off non-chalantly chatting with the first customer, and did not appear to be taking him somewhere to find anything. I was furious that he would stop his conversation to help another man find something, but wouldn't stop to give me, a woman, any assistance...not even "Are you finding everything ok?" when I was clearly standing by an item that says "ASK FOR ASSISTANCE".
I ended up settling for the prepacked set up (NOT what I wanted, or had been told to get). Onward I proceeded to find the lightbulb for the spotlight for the hot water. The first associate I encountered saw me and asked if I had been helped (and already perturbed), I said "Well, apparently, since I don't have a wang, I can't get any help over there." He came over to the lightbulbs and tried to settle me down (he was very nice), and he apologized for the poor service that I had received in the plumbing department. I was so irritated by the experience with the guy in the plumbing department that just because a man walked up he would stop, drop, and assist the customer but a woman would have to install an electrically engineered neon bra and panty set that lit up to say "I NEED ASSISTANCE" and pole dance before being asked if she needed help.
In the future, I think I will shop at my local hardware store and be treated like an intellectual instead of an ornament.