Tuesday, September 17, 2013

No wiener required

Thanks for all your kind comments on my last post.  I did speak with my friend, and she heard me out without getting upset.  We're all good now.

Today's topic is something that I didn't expect to be writing about in Toronto in 2013.  I was raised to believe that women can do anything men can do, with the exception of a few obvious biological functions.  Sometimes I forget that I was in the first generation to be raised with these beliefs, at least on a society-wide scale.  In my mother's day, boys took woodworking classes and girls took sewing.  In my day, we all had to do both (and metal shop, and cooking basics).  I find it weird when I run into older peoples' beliefs about gender roles.

I recently took over responsibility for the light-bulbs at work.  It sounds like a joke.  How many Sparks does it take to change a light bulb? Ha ha.  But in an 18,000 square foot facility, believe me, there are a lot of light bulbs.  And as we have almost no windows or skylights, the lights are always on, and they burn out at a tremendous rate.

There are various types of fixtures to be dealt with.  The trickiest are the recessed pot lights.  Frankly, I think they are badly designed.  I took my first crack at changing those bulbs last week.  I brought out the 6-foot stepladder that I had purchased when we were at our previous location: an office with lower ceilings.  The ceiling I'm dealing with these days is 10 feet up.  I had to stand on the second-last step.  I was feeling pretty wobbly, and would have liked to brace myself against a solid support, but you need both hands on these stupid fixtures to pop the bulb casing out of the bracket, twirl the old bulb out, twirl a new bulb in, and whack the damn thing back into the ceiling.  I had a helper (a girl even shorter than me) to pass the bulbs up and be my spotter.  Nonetheless, I wasn't feeling especially secure up there.

An older, male client observed "Aren't there any men around here to do this?"

Well then of course I had to prove that I could do it myself.

There is, in fact, a man around that I could have asked for help.  He wouldn't have objected.  But why should I, when I can do it myself?  I mean, this guy is a Filipino.  If he's taller than me, it's not by much.

So I stubbornly stayed on task until I ran out of fresh light bulbs.  I gained confidence each time I completed another fixture.  Finally, covered in dust that had rained down on me from the ceiling tiles, I called it a day.

Upon reflection, although I was proud of having done the job like a daredevil, I realized that the wisest course of action would be to buy a taller ladder.  So I did.  I placed an order with an online company which promised next-day shipping.  Next time I would have an 8 foot ladder at my disposal.

As so often in life, a solution to one problem created another problem.  The 8 foot ladder was shipped in a 70 foot truck.  That truck could not deliver the ladder to my work address, because it was too big to turn around in our parking lot.  Fortunately, the building next door has a loading dock area.  I arranged for the driver to park there, just a one-minute walk away.  Then I brought my helper girl out to the truck with me.  I figured we could each take one end of the "featherweight" aluminum ladder and carry it back with us.

The driver was an older man, maybe 60.  When he saw us coming, guess what he said?  "Aren't there any men around who can do this?"

I said "Who needs men?", and we two ladies carried the ladder back across the parking lot without a problem.

I mean, I have nothing against men in general.  I'm sure these older fellows were just trying to be helpful, or wondering sadly when chivalry had died.  Sometimes it's handy to have a human with more strength and/or height to help with things, and it just so happens that slightly more often than not those stronger, taller people are male.  But I also really like doing things myself, when I can.

With a tall enough ladder, the sky's the limit. ;-)


Warped Mind of Ron said...

LOL... this song came to mind


DarcKnyt said...

Well done, Spark, well done! Bravo, dear! And I feel sure, because it would have been the case with me, the men asking were only asking re: chivalry's untimely demise. :)

Granny Annie said...

There is a single issue of discrimination that needed to be dealt with before all others and then the others wouldn't have had to be dealt with. That issue is equality for women. Yet it has been an issue on the back burner and still is there. Only recently did a Catholic spokesperson declare that women should not attend college because it teaches nothing about child raising and keeping a home. Keep changing those light bulbs and keep the sparks flying!

Lynn said...

"With a tall enough ladder, the sky's the limit."

I think that could be used as an analogy that could be applied to many things.

LL Cool Joe said...

Well good for you! Unfortunately there a great many women that play the "poor, I'm a woman and shouldn't be carrying ladders around", that I sometimes wonder if this is why this sexist attitude continues.

I find this much more in the States, women asking men in shops to carry heavy items to the car for them etc. The problem is that sends out mixed signals to men, one minute they are strong and capable of doing anything a man can do, next they are weak and need their help.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: Annie Lennox is AWESOME! :-)

DarcKnyt: Thanks! *takes a bow* I never get angry with men who offer to help with things I can easily do myself. I just say "no thanks", smile, and get on with it.

Granny Annie: Religion is the worst for promoting gender misunderstandings. I think that spokesperson should think again about what it takes to raise children well. Maybe an education might actually help?

Lynn: Now you've gotten me thinking about what the tallest ladder would look like!

Joe: I haven't seen women out in public playing the helpless card in Toronto, I'm happy to say. I guess it might be a southern U.S. phenomenon; there's a real old-fashionedy vibe that gets acted out in that region, from what I've seen of it.

Vanessa T said...

Oh I hear you, Spark! I've been that girl too, when the car died and the helpful men all gathered 'round to help the poor little helpless female fix her car, lol.

I've also been the one to say, "Isn't there a man around to help you with this?" Just this summer, in fact. At the home store, when buying pots, the one I wanted was WAY up on the top shelf, and this tiny little thing came to help and she struggled with that big ladder, and there was a guy employee standing not too far behind her, just watching the view. I thought he was being unchivalrous for not even offering.

I have learned, as my husband likes to remind me, that sometimes "using all your strength" means accepting help that's offered to you. :)