I can remember early on the way people would assume I didn’t know what I needed, or that I couldn’t take care of myself. Sure, I’m a girl, or was so more back then, and there is an unspoken stereotype that girls are out of place in a hardware store (unless they are in the garden center). It was even worse on those occasions that I was put together, well-kempt, or gasp, in a dress. My exterior seemed to scream that I was lost or unknowing or looking for the man I was with–not so.
Even with my air of confidence that I learned to slather on my face as I pulled in the parking lot, even with my laser stare pointed to the exact section where I knew I’d find what I needed; still the questions would come “can I help you?”, “do you need some assistance?”, “ma’am are you doing okay?”. I should be grateful–and part of me was, is. It’s customer service. But it seems so unfounded when the contractors, builders, men with weathered hands and sun-beaten brows don’t get the same inquiries. I take small pleasures in the victory of making it in and out of a hardware store without being asked if I know what I’m looking for or where to find it. It’s not something I grew up on–my dad didn’t teach me to know my way around lumber or the difference between 14/2 or 12/3 wire (though he did teach me and continues to teaching a lot about other types of construction and mechanics).
I take pride in what I learned on the Porch some thirteen or so years ago. And I value my time learning in the Barn (May it Rest In Peace) and alongside my double returner (love you, B) and leading three great groups of staffers as a CD (shoutout to Knox ’09, Leslie ’10, and GV 2010 year round). But a lot of it I learned myself. It was intuitive and hands on and liberating. It was tough and dirty and emotionally overwhelming. But it’s a part of me and a piece of why I can and do take care of myself. Our parents encouraged us to be independent and strong willed (whether through their words or actions) and I definitely picked up that torch. So yes, I’ll take comfort in knowing my way around a Home Depot, what penny nail I need for a project, and the different between OSB and plywood.
I could spend way too much money in a hardware store–I could. But I’m okay with just going to feel a sense of peace too. picture of my adventure at HD today for work