The Home-maker’s Tale
I’e2’80’99ve always been the repairman in the family.
Which may introduce the topic of inclusive language, but suffice it to say, for some purposes (generally these include felicity of language) I don’e2’80’99t mind being referred to as ‘e2’80’9cman’e2’80’9d rather than ‘e2’80’9cperson.’e2’80’9d
My husband grew up in India where there was an appropriate servant caste for every job, and it was all one’s reputation was worth to pick up a hammer oneself. He jokes that he was never much for sports, since there were coolies to do that sort of thing. Nurture is one explanation for his quite alarming ineptitude with tools, although I personally think it merely provided the social framework to support what was his by nature. The very idea of Noel picking up a contractor’e2’80’99s-grade Skil saw is enough to make blood run in cubes.
So by inclination, necessity, and to a certain extent by training, my childhood basics grew to fill adult needs, and I became a homemaker in the fullest sense of the word. These days I am too wary of my carpal tunnel to take up a hammer for any length of time, and tend to phone my beloved contractor when there’e2’80’99s a job of any great scope. But when it comes to replacing the glass in a cabinet door or fixing the leak in a toilet mechanism, I’e2’80’99m your man.
In the early days of my transformation into jill-of-all-trades, the local hardware guys in my rural community tended to greet my questions with a politely concealed trace of amusement, glancing out of the corner of their eyes at one another while asking me, ‘e2’80’9cWhat do you have going now, Mrs King?’e2’80’9d (Of course, I usually showed up at the hardware store in mid-project, and therefore in something of a state of desperation and disrepair myself.)
Still, one advantage of living in a small community for any length of time is that the local guys get to know you, and although they never got over their amusement–hey, who am I to begrudge hard working retailers (particularly those feeling the icy breath of Orchard Supply and Home Depot on their necks) their minor pleasures and amusements? I would just grin back at them, brush my disheveled hair out of my sweaty face, and hold out the offending part to say I needed one of these, please, or could he remind me where they kept their L-braces, and fast, because one of the kids was at home holding the shelf up.
However, I have to admit that there have always been areas of hesitation in my discussions with the hardware store guys. I find my tongue hesitating briefly before admitting that I need a male or female end to repair my garden hose.
And when faced with a toilet repair, I generally wave away offers of help and skulk on my own up and down the aisles, because I’e2’80’99ve never yet managed to march up to the man behind the counter and ask where he keeps his ball cocks.