I currently work at The Home Depot and get to help hundreds of people every week. Occasionally I get those who may require extra help with a project or idea for a project. Nov 2013, I had a customer named Marilyn walk in and request some help with making a book case. Her daughter was in LOVE with the BBC TV show Dr. Who and was quite an avid reader. For Christmas she wanted to build her a book case, but not just any book case. She wanted it to look like the Tardis from the television show to combine her daughters two favorite things. The only issues was Marilyn didn't know where to begin, didn't have any design plans, or know which wood to use. This is where I sprang into action... First thing I told her was "I have NO idea what a Tardis is, lets go look it up on the computer." After a quick Google search, I had pretty good basic idea of what I wanted it to look like.
I quickly drew up some hand sketched designs with dimensions included and told Marilyn that the plans would get her well under way. To which she replied "I don't exactly have means of cutting out the wood needed to make it." She also informed me she was on a bit of a budget to make it and it needed to be as inexpensive as possible... So from here I decided to grab some plywood and 1"x 3" wood planks and went to town. After an hour or two I handed her over the design plans and a stack of precut wood panels. I essentially made a Tardis precut kit with instructions on how to assemble it. Feeling pretty good about myself, I sent her on her way and said I'd love to see photos of it when they finished.
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Step 1: Assembly
Marilyn got all the parts home and went to work. Using some construction adhesive and a pneumatic nail gun, Marilyn and her husband DJ proceeded to apply the 1"x3" planks to the plywood. This started to give it the Tardis's paneling look. Unfortunately that's about as far as they got...
Step 2: To My Surprise!
At this point in time I figured I had probably seen the last of Marilyn for quite a while. To my surprise she showed back up at Home Depot the very next day! She told me that he and her husband were having trouble figuring out exactly how the pieces were suppose to fit together after they had put the planks on the side walls and door panels. It was then I realized that I had undertaken a project a LOT larger than I had previously expected. After consulting my schedule for the next few weeks, I had set up times for them to bring in all the parts when I was working and I would assemble it for them. With the approval of my supervision and the awe struck looks on some of my co-workers faces, I gradually assembled the side walls, back, shelves, and doors. With the book case mostly assembled now, Marilyn and DJ did most of the detail work at home between their visits back to the Home Depot...
Step 3: Starting to Look More Like a Tardis.
Once home, DJ broke out home power painter and a bucket of blue paint and got to it... While he was painting, Marilyn got to work of the smaller details like the sign posted on the door, doing the stencil work for the light up sign (Police call box), picking out a light to mount to the top of it, the window trims and Plexiglas windows, etc... After another visit to me at Home Depot, I had realigned the doors and finished up my part to a near complete project. It had been nearly four full weeks of designing, cutting, and assembling this project that all originated in my mind in a matter of a few minuets. I said my goodbyes to Marilyn and DJ just a few days before Christmas and wished them luck on the rest of it and getting it finished in time to surprise their daughter Miranda.
Step 4: The Final Steps.
Once back home, Marilyn and DJ put the finishing touches on the bookcase. Installing the lights, signs and decals. Then the biggest issue of all came about again... How do they now hide this nearly 7 foot tall, 4 foot wide book case for a few more days without Miranda finding it? At first they had all the wood pieces in the basement with the plan of telling her it was all for the basement they were remodeling incase she had asked. She never did. Then as the project grew bigger and more colorful, it was moved out to the garage and was hidden under tarps and blankets in the corner of the garage. Once again she hadn't noticed the ever growing project. Even after it was done and under a tarp, miraculously she never went out to the garage for anything!
Step 5: Christmas Day!
Two days before Christmas, I had received an invitation from Marilyn and DJ to join them for dinner on Christmas day that way they could have Miranda thank me for helping build her gift. I arrived early for dinner to spend time relaxing and talking. Marilyn began to tell me of the events that happened that morning. around 6 a.m. Marilyn had blasted over the home stereo system the sound effects from Dr. Who when the Tardis would finish warping. She played it until everyone had gotten up and come downstairs. The entire family knew of the projects EXCEPT for Miranda. As Miranda came down the stairs confused as to what was going on, she was met face to face by her new Tardis. Followed by a brief look of bewilderment to 5 minuets of screaming for joy and then a huge smile on her face the rest of the day. She was so appreciative of it and grinned from ear to ear the whole time I was there. Still to this day I keep in contact with Marilyn and DJ and they mention that people still come over wanting to see the bookcase. It was definitely a project and an experience of a life time for me and I'm so glad I was afforded the freedom at The Home Depot to go above and beyond just customer service for this wonderful family.