• Published 18th Sep 2021
  • 1,095 Views, 40 Comments

Ace Is The Place - Buck Swisher

Ace is the place with the helpful hardware...ponies?

  • ...

Ace Is the Place

It was time for work.

Dan pulled up to Ace Hardware in his Ace uniform, ready to Ace the day. When he walked into the store, however, his manager, Fred, was waiting for him.

"What's up?" said Dan cheerfully.

"You've been promoted!" said the manager, spreading his arms in congratulations. The other employees standing by gave a small applause.

"Awesome!" said Dan. "What's my new role?"

"Manager!" said Fred the manager, all too cheerfully.

"Great! Are you quitting?" asked Dan.

"Never!" replied Fred. "You're gonna be the manager for one of our other locations. Most unfortunately, the last one decided to retire. He seemed really happy to be relieved." Fred rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

"Um...okay," said Dan. "So! Where is this new location?"

"Right here!" said Fred, handing Dan a slip of paper. "Just head over there and you can get started!"

"Great!" said Dan. "Does this mean I get a raise?"

"Nope!" replied Fred. "Not in America! Have a good day!"

"You too!" said Dan, getting back into his 2009 Honda Civic.

Fifteen or so minutes later, Dan pulled into the parking lot of a different Ace, still feeling optimistic. He walked up to the doors, which opened automatically. He was then met with a surprise.

Rather than your average slightly disgruntled Ace employee that is plainly not getting paid enough, there were ponies. Multicolored ponies, all wearing Ace uniforms.

One spotted Dan and trotted up to him. "Hi there!" he said. "Welcome to Ace Hardware! Are you the new manager?"

"Yeah," said Dan, still surprised. "Are you an employee here?"

"Yup!" replied the pony. "My name's George!"

"George?" said Dan, bending down to read the pony's name tag.

"George!" the pony repeated. "I was named by a human, which is why it's a bit different from theirs." He indicated the rest of the pony staff, which had gathered to see their new manager.

Realizing this, Dan straightened himself up. "Uh, hello!" he said to them all. "I'm Dan, the new manager."

"Awesome!" said one of the ponies.

"Welcome!" said another.

"Gonna miss the last one," said another sadly.

"So, uh, how many customers do you guys actually get?" asked Dan.

"A lot!" replied George. "People love a store with ponies. Which is good, except for kids."

"Huh," said Dan. "Well then, I'll just head over to-"

"Wait!" said a light blue pony rushing up to him. "Here." She handed him a pin that read MANAGER. "If you're gonna walk around the store, you need to wear that."

"Thanks," said Dan. "Right, so I'll just head over to the manager's office, and-"

"Don't you wanna get to know us?" said a mint green pony. "A good manager should know his employees!"

Dan realized that these ponies knew nothing about standard American workplace values. Regardless, he resigned himself to going around learning the names of every pony on the staff. He had to hold in a laugh when a white pony with a black mane said his name was Bobert.

When Dan finally reached the manager's office, he found a piece of paper on the desk with writing on it. He picked it up, and recognized it as a letter from the previous manager. He read the letter in his head:

Dear Future Manager,

First of all, sorry you had to take the job. If you don't get that now, you'll get it later. I decided to leave this before I dipped 'cause you need to know a few things. So here they are: First, don't talk to Bobert. He gets really sad for no reason at all sometimes, so it's best to just avoid him. I once asked him for the weather and he got depressed. Second, don't be rude. If you say something in the wrong tone, the ponies are gonna start doing it to the customers. Third, ALWAYS be on time. Trust me, you don't wanna be late. And finally, remember this: All the ponies love ear scratches. Use that to your advantage.

Hope this helps you, man. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm getting the hell out of here.

There was no signature at the end. Dan stared at the letter, thinking about what he just read. "Okay then," he said to himself. He put the letter in a drawer and sat in the manager's chair. It was pretty comfortable.

After a moment of relaxing, Dan realized he should probably check on things in the store. When he was an employee, Fred would always come out of his office at random times to comment on the employees' work. Usually he complimented Dan, because he gave everything to his job. And he was still gonna do that now.

He walked over to one of the checkout lines. "Quick question," he said to the pony manning it, named Windy. "What happens when there's kids?"

"It's not pretty," Windy replied. "Part of why we fear them. All they do is chase after us, trying to ride us. It's horrible." She shuddered.

"So do you ban kids from coming here?" Dan asked.

"We can't," said Windy. "But parents hate it as much as we do, so nobody's brought children here in a while."

"When it happens, do you run?" asked Dan curiously.

"We can't," Windy said again. "We have to be attentive to customers, so we can't run until the kids start towards us. Then we run."

Dan stifled a laugh at the thought. "Alright." Then, he looked at the door. "Hey! A customer!"

All the ponies rushed into different positions as the customer walked in. He looked very tired. "Hey Windy," he said before heading off to find whatever he needed.

"Who's that?" asked Dan.

"His name's Harry," said Windy. "He's been coming here for a while. Most of the people here are regulars. "

"How often does a new customer come in?"

"About once or twice a week," said Windy grimly. "Usually they don't buy anything. You probably can imagine why."


Dan walked off to go find something else to busy himself with. A moment later, he found it. The mint green pony from earlier, who was named Chamomile, was trying to push a box of toilet pipes up onto a shelf that was a little over her head. Dan walked over and pushed the box in with ease, given it was at his eye level.

"Thanks," breathed Chamomile.

"No problem," said Dan, walking off to find more situations to busy himself with.

Everything went pretty normal, with Dan the manager occasionally helping a pony in need, as well as avoiding Bobert. But it was the last customer of the day that made Dan realize that no day at work in America is allowed to be easy.

All the ponies stared with visible fright as a young man walked into the store...

...with a six-year-old girl at his side.

"Ah, shi-" Dan was cut off because this story is rated E.

"Hey there!" said George, doing a great job of hiding his fear. "Welcome to Ace Hardware!"

"Uh..." said the young man. Windy, who was standing near Dan, leaned over and whispered in a terrified voice that this was a new customer.

With a kid.

Who was about to scream...

"PONY!!" the girl yelled, throwing herself at George. George backed up immediately, looking at the young man for help.

"Come on, don't do this..." said the man weakly, holding the girl back by the arm. "Come on, Ellie..."

But the girl wouldn't be resisted. She wrenched herself free and began to sprint at top speed toward George, whose hooves clacked loudly as he ran away.

"Excuse me," said Dan to the young man who seemed to shocked to care about his daughter. "Can you please go get your child?"

The man seemed to snap out of a trance. "Right," he said. "Sorry about that. I'm just a little shocked myself..."

"It's okay," said Dan as he and the other man set off at a jog. "But we gotta find your kid before-"

Dan stopped. Before him was George, who had been caught and pinned to the ground by the little girl. He was struggling to escape as the girl, who had thrown herself onto his back, slapped his neck yelling, "Go, horsie, go!"

Dan didn't want to laugh, but he couldn't help it. He snorted a little. George didn't notice, as he was now trying to avoid being poked in the eye.

"Jesus," said the man, going over and pulling the girl off George," Come on, you know better than that..." He then began to head towards the door. "Sorry, man," he said to Dan. "Won't happen again. I'll just head to Home Depot." And with that, he sprinted out the door, visibly embarrassed at the actions of his daughter.

Dan turned back to George, who was still lying on the floor, breathing heavily. "Come on, George, get up," he said, lifting the pony to his feet. "She's gone."

"That was terrible," said George. All the ponies had gathered around him, concern visible on their faces.

"You can't file a lawsuit?" asked Dan.

"The last manager tried," George replied. "And he lost all his credibility. After that, he seemed to really dislike it here. Then he quit." George looked up at Dan.

Dan casted his mind around for a change of subject. "Hey, any of you know when this place closes?" Dan asked.

"Ten o'clock," said Bobert. Some of the ponies stared at him.

"Thanks," said Dan, checking his phone. "Only thirty more minutes, then."

Dan didn't notice Bobert getting depressed until Windy came up to him and asked why he had spoken to him.

"I just said thanks!" said Dan. But Bobert was sad, and Dan, as the manager, needed to do something.

Straightening some lug wrenches as he passed, he rushed over to Bobert and did the only thing he could think of. Bobert's ears rose, and his eyes closed lazily as Dan scratched his head. "There," he said after a minute.

"Thanks," said Bobert somewhat shyly. Dan didn't notice, as he was saying a silent prayer of thanks to the previous manager. He had handled the situation.

"Now that that's taken care of," said Dan with some relief, "Who can tell me where the restrooms are?"

One of the ponies pointed, and Dan set off. Once he arrived, he shut the door, and after ensuring that the bathroom was empty, he pulled out an e-cig and began to smoke. His mind relaxed. He exhaled, puffing out a cloud of smoke. With it came out all of the tension from today. A few minutes later, at two minutes to ten, he emerged, perfectly cheerful.

"See you guys tomorrow!" he said as he strolled out the door, and into his car. The ponies waved at him as he backed out of the parking lot. He chuckled to himself.

"I'm a damn good manager," he said to no one, already thinking about the next day.

Author's Note:

As a user I know once said, this is just a love letter to another fic I adore.

I had a lot of fun with this, made even better by the fact that it's Saturday. I don't even know if you can call this a crackfic, but if you laugh at it, then that's all I need. I hope you liked it, and if you did, leave a comment. They mean the world.


P.S. If you didn't like it, constructive criticism is welcome, but please don't just say, "This isn't good." That doesn't help.

Comments ( 40 )

I was DYING bc i was reading this while browsing for a toolbox at my local Ace

Oh wow, that's crazy man. Glad you liked it though.

Hi. I voted this up and it was fine; however, since you requested comments--given the previous manager's negativity toward the position--I was expecting terrible things to happen: spills, lawsuits, injuries, etc. to justify the promised drama and admittedly events were progressing in that direction, but in the end, everything was fine. In short, it's an interesting concept that promises great drama and it sort of peters out into a day in the life. This probably could have a "slice of life" tag. Its payoff conclusion is okay, but the story could have been improved by going for more endgame humor, darkness, or (combining in a twofor) dark humor.

(Also, none of the ponies except Windy seemed to have particularly pony-ish names, which was strange since early in the story it was mentioned that only one of the ponies had a human-sounding name).

I get that, I'll see if I can revise it a bit. Also adding the slice of life tag.

The very first thing that came to mind seeing the title was that damned jingle lmao
🎶Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.🎶

That's how I named it.

Best Wishes!

I suppose a different angle could be that the previous manager interpreted everything in a bad way and overreacted, while in fact, to your main character and a neutral or pony-positive observer although everything may on the surface seem concerning, deep down it is really amazing. You could play up that irony. (But I think you were aiming at the place actually being plagued by weird disasters--e.g. it may be heading towards a shut-down of the store due to its lack of profit-creation, or other reasons as discussed in my previous comment).

Wait, isn't the manager usually the one that locks up?

Ace is the Place with the Helpful Hardware Pones!

Hm. I would think that after enough times of kids running in and tackling ponies, they'd bring in a Bulk Biceps-esque pony to handle those situations one way or another. Either that or one or two masochistic ponies that actually enjoy that kind of excitement. If there are enough ponies around to run an Ace themselves, I'm sure they could put out a 'Help Wanted' for ponies like that and get a response, too.
That aside, the snarky comments about the American work force are pretty spot on. Upvoted for that alone. :rainbowlaugh:

...Huh. This seemed good, but more like the beginning of a multi-chapter story; when I finished the chapter, I was surprised to see that the story was marked complete. It feels like a lot was left unresolved, questions unanswered.
Still, I did enjoy what was there; thank you for writing. :)

"All was well for Dan and his store...until two weeks later..."

"Ellie had told her friends about the "pony store", who had told their friends, who had told theirs..."

"The first indication of trouble was that Saturday when a deep rumble was heard throughout the Ace. Dan and his staff wandered to the front of the store and stared out the plate glass windows. Their eyes shrunk to pinpricks as they watched a mob of little girls descending upon the place..."

"When the police showed up hours later, they found several traumatized ponies rocking in the fetal position, with a sole Human locked in his office..."

I think yall just work for terrible people... I got a raise when I move positions, and as a decent worker it's been implied I'll get another one. I haven't worked at this company for longer than a year.

A manager would definitely get a pay raise, even if it's insignificant. If you don't you should deny the promotion and quit on the spot. In seriousness though...

Hey, George is a wonderful name.

I appreciate you, fam. If you like my stuff, there's a button that'll tell you when I come out with somethin new...

This story clearly needs to be longer (or have a sequel of a more substantial length).

He gets really sad for no reason at all sometimes, so it's best to just avoid him. I once asked him for the weather and he got depressed.

Rather than Bobert simply not liking being spoken to for no obvious reason, I was expecting the punchline to be that he was a pegasus pony. And so asking him about the weather was a reminder that he was working retail instead of working the weather, with the prior manager not understanding the implication.

This was silly, I liked it. :pinkiehappy:

That song’s a classic.

I've gotten three raises at the place I work for in the last four years. Started out at $12 an hour, and now I'm making $19 an hour, and I've received a promotion as well. It is possible to get better pay here in the US. The labor market is very employee friendly right now, so there really isn't a reason to stay at a crappy job if there are other places hiring in your area.

Same, it triggered the second I saw the picture of an Ace Hardware store.

This was almost too predictable and probably happens almost any place that employs ponies that can readily. I hate to see what happens with ponies working in a restaurant, amusement park or theater

10981984 that would vary based upon alot of things. Store policies a big one. Does the company have associates they trust to do opening and closing.

I know the Horrors of Retail far too well.

This is basically what happens every day.

this is a story that you laugh at because you know the pain and horror.

"Yup!" replied the pony. "My name's George!"

At first I double checked whether I had read his name right.

"A lot!" replied George. "People love a store with ponies. Which is good, except for kids."

No doubt about that!
But what's wrong with the kids? Do they keep trying to pet the employees?

"Ah, shi-" Dan was cut off because this story is rated E.

*sigh* Good, I was worried for a moment...

Good story!
I enjoyed reading it.

this needs MOAR:flutterrage: chapters!

ouh wow what an endorsement. Now i read it too and perhaps come back screaming too :D
Yelling does gets results!

As an Ace Hardware Associate,

This was a weird thing to see while browsing the home page.

...I think I'm bored. Is this what boredom feels like?

In all seriousness, I'm sorry to say it, but nothing in this story really works for me. I worked for a Wal-Mart for six months late 2018-early 2019, and I got a pay raise around the time my associate discount card came in, if not sooner, despite being considered a sub-par worker for my lack of speed (not to mention it was my first job), so the "you don't get pay raises in America!" is blatant bulls:yay:, Bobert's "talking makes him depressed" schtick falls completely flat because I'm highly empathetic and would really like to know what the hay happened to the stallion to make him act like that, as well as the joke just really missing something that I can't personally put my finger on, and finally, ponies implied to barely, if ever, exercise, can carry giant boulders at least twice, if not three times their sizes on their backs in the show, not mention a filly pulling along a giant mountain of luggage with barely any visible strain, to say nothing of what real-life, full-grown equines can carry; which is to say, a hell of a lot more than a six year old girl, unless the girl was so ungodly obese that she'd never catch a pony on a casual trot, let alone a pony who apparently must regularly run away from children.

There's some irony-- if one doesn't consider it hypocrisy-- to be found in the fact that a person who regularly dismisses cries for realism with statements about how fiction is not reality and cartoons don't have to be realistic and blah blah blah, can't enjoy something that doesn't seem to give a feather about realism, but it's the simple truth. To be blunt, it bothers me here because this is supposedly set on our Earth, just with magical talking ponies added. Thing is, I just don't see how all these ponies could work at a hardware store for long enough to have changed managers, yet people are still shocked by their very existence, and the ponies still haven't mastered the art of evading children and apparently don't have the strength to stand up if even one child catches them and hops on their back. Surely there are plenty of ponies elsewhere. Why is it such an issue here?

Usually I love Slice-of-Life stuff, even when it doesn't really have an overarching story, but this fic just doesn't work for me at all as comedy, and while intrique is there, this fic alone feels hollow, rushed, lifeless, and honestly the only reason I think I stuck around past the first scene was because of the ponies... who barely even exist in this. And I really don't get why Dan needed a smoke break at the end when he didn't seem stressed at all? Heck, the only vaguely stressful things to happen were Bobert getting depressed, which is apparently what happens when someone just talks to the stallion, and George getting chased by a kid, which was clearly more amusing to Dan then stress-inducing.

Also, very nitpick-y, but...

"Ah, shi-" Dan was cut off because this story is rated E.

I find this joke in particular to be excruciatingly lacking. Just having a character get cut-off from swearing because the fic's rated E isn't funny. It's, at best, a way to slip in what TvTropes calls a "Precision F-Strike" without having an actual F-Bomb or other cussword actually get said aloud. If you want to make a joke out of characters not being allowed to swear because of the fic's rating, go George of The Jungle on us and have the characters argue with the narrator over it, or have the narration dance around the expletive in a tongue-in-cheek manner, or just have the character pull a last-second word swap. For example, when Dan gets cut off, have him glance at the ponies (or the child) and finish with "take", like shitake mushrooms. It's pretty generic in my opinion, but it's still better than this simple line.

Or, you can just, you know, bump up the age rating. Hardly anyone on here seems to care about the age ratings in the first place, so I don't think it really matters all that much anyway.

All that said, comedy is subjective, and story-wise, there's definitely potential here. You just need some better, more pony-ish names, and a bit more thought put into things. Show us more of what the ponies contribute (or fail to contribute) to in the overall store, and don't take shortcuts with jokes. I'm sorry I don't have more positive things to say, honestly I hate leaving negative reviews or comments even when I despise what's in front of me, but I can't escape the simple fact that this fic bored me. It's a lot easier to be negative about something that evokes nothing in you than something that evokes any kind of emotion, positive or negative, at least for me, for some bizarre reason.

I hope this doesn't come off as a wall of hatred or anything. Despite my boredom and disappointment, I hope the best for you. I won't upvote your fic, but I'll Follow you, at least for a while. I hope to see you continue this little world with just a bit more quality.

tl;dr, I ended up bored, but I think you'll do better next time. :pinkiesmile:

"Nope!" replied Fred. "Not in America! Have a good day!"

Already gold!

Hm perhaps expanding it would be a good thing. More screentime for each employee

Well, this is... Something.

It's not bad and is entertaining for a couple of minutes

Wow, I was just tryna be funny damn

And as I said, comedy is subjective. More importantly, as I also said, I believe you'll do better next time.

I know reading negative comments isn't fun, especially when they're huge walls of text (and holy cow, I did not mean to make it that long), but if you want to improve as a writer, you need to accept criticism. I apologize if I my comment came off as an attempt to "savagely roast" you, as I merely wanted to clarify what I didn't like about the fic.

You've still gained me as a Follower, and I have not downvoted the story. Others clearly do find this story funny and relatable, which is obviously a sign of quality on your part. And again, I think your next story will be better, especially if it expands upon this one.

I'm sorry about my previous comment. While it does express my opinion and critique, I most certainly could've cut it down to just the main points and expressed more optimism towards your potential and even the fic itself. Admiral Biscuit, a writer I admire and highly respect, recommended this fic. That's pretty high praise in my book.

Wow, Biscuit? I'm so happy that he liked it.

So wait, they're all Earth Ponies?

Here's his blog post about it:
His post is actually how I found this story and why I decided to read it.


Hm. I would think that after enough times of kids running in and tackling ponies, they'd bring in a Bulk Biceps-esque pony to handle those situations one way or another.

...Or someone kind and matronly, but firm and able to set boundaries, who has experience corralling a herd of rowdy tykes. Someone like Cheerilee or Mrs. Cake.

True 'nuff. Personally, I dunno if Cheerilee would be quite enough to keep human children in line (foals, sure, kids, not so sure), but I can see Mrs. Cake doing it— she's got actual Mom experience. I could even see her getting them to chill out by bribing them into a 'Kiddie Korner' with sweets. :rainbowlaugh:
Or Pinkie. :pinkiehappy:

This isn't good... it's great! Ten points to adorable assault!

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