Something ever so slightly odd just happened. I need to tell you about yesterday to give it context.
Yesterday Mum, Dad and I met at the local DIY store to get the things we needed to lay a patio at Pog Towers. (We needed industrial qualities of sand and pea shingle and therefore needed both cars to spread the load a little.)
If you’ve never been to a DIY store before it opens (I know, I must officially be a grown up to be there early on a Sunday), I highly recommend it for entertainment value. The car park slowly fills up, 10 minutes before open all these men saunter to the door and 5 minutes before you could mistake it for something like the Harrods sale. There were about 20 blokes almost, but not quite, jostling to be first through the door. With no make up and dressed in the dirty tracksuit bottoms and hoodie I’d been wearing the day before to dig, destroy and replace various parts of the garden, I fitted right in. There was no gentleman-ness when the doors finally opened and we all herded in together. And I liked that.
We had too much sand and not enough pea shingle to completely finish the patio so my job on the way home from work tonight was to go back to the shop and replace one for the other. I mentioned this to a fellow commuter as we walked from the train.’ So your husband is building a patio?’ he asked. Indignantly I replied that no, I was. Then rather spoiled my indignant look by adding ‘with Mum and Dad’. But still, you know…
I got to the shop, lugged the sand from the boot of the car and went in to ask if I could do a swap. I realise I looked a little different – boots, skirt, floaty long cardigan and make up – but I was told ‘I’ll get you some help to lift it’. Now, these bags weigh a lot. It’s just about the limit of what I can lift from the ground, but I’d lifted seven bags several times each yesterday and I felt after the ‘husband question’ that I kind of had a point to prove. ‘I’m good thanks’ I said wandering off, steering my trolley into various displays (some things I just can’t help being rubbish at). But then, no pea shingle (this had to be confirmed by two assistants who both seemed to think I must have missed it. I hadn’t). So I got my refund and went to the DIY place down the road.
Where this time a very well meaning gentleman assumed that I needed to be shown what pea shingle was before he lifted it for me. I thanked him and said I could manage, but as I paid I was told the lady would call for help to lift the bag into the boot of my car. (I declined politely).
So it could be a coincidence that if you wear knackered old clothes and look like rubbish you are accepted as capable and if you look smart (ish) and wear a skirt, you need help. I could also be being sensitive – I get that way at this time of the evening when I’ve been up since silly o’clock, but I don’t think so.
Interestingly (or maybe not), I had to write a blurb for a ‘Women’s Event’ at work today on how to climb the corporate ladder. I’m thinking of telling them cancel it and instead send a mail to the group suggesting that they give up with the suited and booted look. Tracksuit bottoms and hoodies, especially when coupled with a lack of make up and a liberal spreading of garden, may actually do the trick if you want to be seen as capable and equal with men.
Ok, maybe not, but it’s almost worth trying :o)