Monday, June 7, 2010

Don't Call Me Shirley

Even though we are living in a more 'enlightened' and 'progressive' time, I still see signs every day that male chauvenism is alive and well. I'm not so much talking about keeping women in the bedroom as opposed to the boardroom. I more talking about how men, especially men who are hired to fix your car or something in your house, behave around the women who hired them.
My friend's furnace broke. She turned on the heat and all she got was a loud clacking noise. This, of course meant no hot water either. She calls a local plumber. The office gives her a time 'window' of when a guy would show up. A half hour AFTER the window had closed, the guy comes.
He is cheerful enough, but it is clear he is tired and wants to call it a day. She tells him the symptoms and shows him the way to the furnace. He comes out five minutes later. "Your switch was off, dear," he says with a condescending smirk. "I'll do you a big favor and not charge you for the service call."
"My friend turned off the switch AFTER the furnace died," she informed him. "That's not the problem. Go back down and look again." "Okay, hon, but I'll have to charge you. I was tryin' ta do ya a big favor here."
He goes back and clanks around for a while. He comes back up. "Whaddya know, dear, you were right. Ya need a new pump and a new hot water tank. I can do you a favor and put them in for only $800, but ya gotta give me cash this minute."
"Fix it, give me the bill, and THEN I will pay you," said my friend. "And sweetie, don't call me dear. Or hon. Or babe. Or darlin'.

One time we ordered a new refrigerator. We were excited because it was a side-by-side with water and ice right in the door. Now in order to hook up the water, a guy had to come special.
They gave me a time window. An hour and a half after the window closed, the guy came. No apologies. "I gotta tap into your cold water pipes to hook it up, hon," said the guy. My ruff went up. "I'll show you where that pipe is, I said, because I have lived in my house for 17 years and I have made it my business to know my pipes. "No need, dear," he smiled. He went down the stairs to the basement. I heard nothing for a while. The I heard drilling and clanking. He came back up looking perturbed. He tested the water in the door. Only a dribble of lukewarm water came out. Mumbling, he went back down. "Are you sure you tapped into the right pipe?" I called down. "I can show you the right one." No response. More clanking. He made several more trips up and down. While he was on the phone with another guy about the issue, I went down to see what he had done and immediately understood the problem. Instead of tapping into the main cold water pipe, he had drilled a hole into the monoflow pipe that sends hot water into all the radiators in the house. When the guy came down I pointed this out, showing him how the monoflow went all around the basement and fed into different rooms. He wasn't listening at all. Let me handle this, dear," he said without looking at me. He mumbled that he would come back in two days to 'fix' the problem.

Two days and two hours past the new window, a different guy came. I insisted on coming down to the basement with him. I told him about the monoflow and showed him where the proper cold water pipe was. He studied the situation and walked over to check the offshoot hose the first guy had attached to the wrong pipe. "Shit," he muttered under his breathe. Making quick work of it, the second guy removed the hose and attached a new one exactly where I told him to. The water in the fridge poured out cold and strong. He called headquarters on his cell phone. "The lady was right, you doofus," he barked into the phone. "Next time pay attention!"
Guy number two apologized for the inconvenience and left.
To quote Leslie Neilsen, when someone said to him, "surely you're kidding," Leslie said, "I never kid . . . and DON'T call me Shirley.
When it come to male chauvenistic attitudes, I say, "I'm not a dumb woman . . . and DON'T call me sweetie. Or dear. Or hon. I may hit you over the head with a cold water pipe.

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