"Fine Distinctions" by Hunter Madsen

"Fine Distinctions"

 
TITLE - "Fine Distinctions"
WHERE - Lumber supply yard, San Diego, California (2015)

At a suburban hardware store, I came across these stacks of cabinetry trim that had been elaborately differentiated and color-coded by hand, according to somebody's arcanely personalized - and, to shoppers, utterly unexplained - tracking system. Upon first noticing these stacks, I supposed somebody's bored child had sneaked in with a box of crayons and a neurotic streak.  Looking around, however, I found that all stacks of tooled woodwork across the warehouse had been meticulously color-coded in like fashion. In the case of this shelf, it looked as though, after all the painstaking effort to differentiate them, the various items on the right had subsequently been lumped together anyway, perhaps by another employee indifferent to the scheme of the first one. What we are left with, then, are residual distinctions whose patterned colours are now meaningful to you and me only as a thing of beauty. No matter - we enjoy, and then the universe moves on, shifting the visual patterns before our eyes once more into something else entirely, like a gigantic glass kaleidoscope.