by Greg Schwem
The hardware store employee approached, noting the confusion on my face. It’s a look that just happens naturally the moment I enter any store that smells of lumber.
“What can I help you find today?” he said.
“The ‘Diet Coke’ button,” I said.
I repeated my request, glancing at my watch while doing so. Whenever I’m in a hardware store, my goal is to be out in less than five minutes. I never do this when I’m in, say, an electronics store. Then again, I enjoy being around flat screen televisions. Drill bits and tile grout, not so much.
“We sell Diet Coke at the registers,” the employee said. “But that’s it. Are you referring to something you wear on your lapel?”
“No, I want the button that sits on your desk. You press it and somebody walks in with a Diet Coke,” I said. “I read Donald Trump had one installed on the Oval Office desk, but President Biden got rid of it when he was sworn in. And it didn’t even require an executive order.”
“We don’t sell a Diet Coke button,” the relieved employee said. “Have you tried contacting Coca-Cola? Maybe they have one.”
“I sent an email,” I said. “Still waiting for a response. Look, it doesn’t have to be Diet Coke, specifically. Do you sell other buttons for a home office that produce objects instantly when pressed? What about a ‘potato chips’ button? A ‘warm pair of socks’ button? A ‘Bud Light’ button?”
“You want a Bud Light button in your office?” the employee said.
“I’d program it so it only worked after 5:30 p.m.,” I replied.
“Sir, we have a full line of doorbells in aisle 15. Wouldn’t something like that work?” asked the employee, now glancing at HIS watch.
“I suppose so,” I said.
“Great. Happy to be of service,” the employee said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m needed in plumbing.”
Trudging to the other side of the store, I found an “entry alert kit” featuring a device that promised to emit a buzzing sound. I brought it home, secured it near my keyboard and pressed the button. My dog, not recognizing this new sound, freaked out, nonetheless.
“Why is she barking?” my wife yelled from upstairs.
“She’ll be fine,” I yelled back. “She just needs to get used to the new sound.”
“What new sound?” said my wife, now standing at the entrance to my office.
“This one,” I said, pressing the button again. The dog responded accordingly.
“Why are you buzzing?” she asked, after consoling our now breathless pooch.
“It’s my Diet Coke buzzer,” I said. “Like the one President Trump used. You’re familiar with it?”
“Familiar enough to know that I’m not getting you a Diet Coke every time you press that thing,” she said. “Did you really think that was going to happen?”
“It doesn’t have to be you,” I said. “It could be anyone who happens to hear it. What about our daughters? They’ve been spending a lot of time in the house since COVID-19. They can get it.”
“When did everybody in this house suddenly become your servants?” she said.
“So, I should return the buzzer?”
“No, I think I’ll get one. Maybe I’ll get a few, all with different sounds. One is the signal that I’m not cooking dinner tonight, another is that the faucet is still dripping — I’ll return it when you finally fix it — another for…”
“OK, I get it. But can you just bring me a Diet Coke one time? Just so I can experience what might have been?”
Before she could answer, I pressed the button.
My wife exited the room, returning with my favorite beverage.
For a brief moment, I felt very presidential.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Amazon.com. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s monthly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at www.gregschwem.com)