Mixed company

I am very excited about two projects I'm working on (SSB & Solar panels) but I've been dreading actually going out and buying supplies. Driving around trying to describe and locate various unusual items isn't exactly fun but my desire to avoid it was out of proportion with the task.

It finally dawned on me that over time I have been conditioned to dislike hardware stores.

Most of the time I meet helpful people and after the initial discomfort of me trying to describe what I need with my hands and without all of the correct vocabulary, most of the time I have a good experience or at least a neutral experience. I would say that nearly 100% of my interactions with younger male salespeople and female salespeople have been positive and maybe 7 out of 10 times I have very helpful and educational interactions with older male salespeople, yet it is the remaining 3 of 10 times that stand out in my memory. I dread the errands days because I know that in a day when I am running around to those types of stores that I will run into a memorable few older men who are either dismissive and rude, passively aggressively rude or patronizingly rude.

I suspect that those men are rude to a lot of people, including men, and I certainly can't rule out that there is something about me as an individual that is evoking it, but I can't help but feel that they are more often rude to me because I'm female.

I can't imagine the crusty dude at Capital Iron telling my husband Carol that he really shouldn't consider doing his own solar panel install because the "wind can be very strong and dangerous so you need a professional". Yet he did just tell me that, as if I needed a reminder about the power of the wind.

There is also something about a hardware store that is like a beauty salon. The hardware store is a male place where men feel free to talk about women in ways they don't normally in mixed company just like women feel free to talk about men at beauty salons in ways they don't normally in mixed company. Although I'm thick skinned about gender wars and a (I think) a good sport, when a group of sales men are laughing with a customer about how you can't bring any women aboard or you will need an inverter, I feel awkward stepping up to their circle to ask my questions about GTO-15 wire.

There are ways where being a woman in a hardware store can be advantageous (friends swear that they only get a discount when the woman buys the goods from the local chandlery) and I love aisles full of shiny boat toys, the smell of grease and the smell of freshly cut lumber. I am, after all, the daughter of a carpenter. So, it is doubly a bummer that I also find those places to be occasionally negative.

- Livia

PS - Carol overheard how the local marine chandlery dude talked to me on the phone one night (talking over me, not letting me speak, telling me I was wrong and implying that I didn't know what I really wanted) and said that he was surprised I hadn't punched him in the face. Not that either of us are the punching type.

The next day Carol went in to pick something up and the dude told him that he (the dude) had been wrong and I had been right the previous evening on the phone.



  1. I have spent way too many hours this week running from place to place looking for "stuff." I can tell you that I also hate going in to stores trying to find that special something that I know will work for a project, but I just don't know what the item is called or even if it really exists!

    Will I be able to get away without making a trip or two like that today? Doubtful!

  2. ... and I have an attraction(?) to the smell of gasoline (dad had a gas station when I was young) but not fish (he bought that in my teens).

    I think I taught my kids to go in the store like they deserve to be there as much as any grown up. That fight continues.

  3. @Mike - I hear you. Days have been spent looking for bits for the SSB, battery and solar install.

    @Valerie - That's the thing. I feel like I walk in without a chip on my shoulder. Of course, at this point that chip is probably starting to re-grow.



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