It’s morning. I mash the 1-4 cups button on Mr. Coffee once again and notice a truck pull into my driveway. Big Bob’s Garage Door Repair the sign promises. I glance at the clock. Precisely 8-4pm, right on time. With the presence of a strange man just outside the door, I rush to put on a bra (over my pajamas), sweater and snowboots, take my hair out from the crazy bedtime bun spouting from my head, and step outside to show him what was wrong with the door. Or really, with me.
“I can’t figure out what the problem is.” I explain. “After that blizzard around Christmas, I couldn’t get it to close, it just wasn’t responding.”
Rewind for a moment to the day after last Christmas (2010). The raging blizzard created countless battles that left me feeling frustrated, sad, and annoyed with my alone-ness. Here’s where being a single girl can get thorny (especially if you live in a house).
The Aftermath of the Christmas blizzard:
- Battle #1- The driveway. Going outside after a snowstorm and seeing a monstrosity of snow blocking you, piled up along the only road you have to freedom is daunting to say the least. Not to mention the damning ice wall at the end of the driveway that has formed because the plows have conveniently cleared all of the snow from the main road by moving it in front of your personal road. This ice wall is the most rigid, frigid, non- cracking, back breaking, stubborn obstacle of all. It can feel like trying to move a mountain with a toothpick. Snowblowers can’t even tackle this thing. You need a semi-automatic, or some form of explosive. (Hmmm… so perhaps a nuclear physicist instead of a husband)
- Battle #2- The man who wants to ‘help.’ I’m no stranger to shoveling a driveway. It was one of the rare things we used to do as a family, but for one single girl by herself, it’s more than a bit much.
On the post blizzard morning of 12/27/10, I climbed outside into my yard simply unwilling to process the task ahead of me. Instead, I just stood for a while and enjoyed the tranquility. The glistening whiteness everywhere. The profound silence. As I’m deep into the poetry of the moment, 2 dudes walk by and see me by myself in the fresh sea of snow surrounding the yard.
“You wan we do you house?”
I snapped out of a wonderful trance and stared at the two men.
“You need shovel?”
I looked around. Help? Jesus, yes…
“Uhhh, maybe” I played it slick and put on my haggler hat. (I was slick… slick like a sliding seal trying to climb up a water slide).
“We do whole house, driveway, door, everything for you.”
“How much?” Let’s get right to the point gentleman.
I stood in lament of this new world. Who were these grown men?! Gone are the glory days of shovel toting neighborhood kids who came around offering help, wanting to get their little hustle on to make money to blow on candy (myself included).
“How much you pay?” They put it back on me. I thought.
“20 dollars” my honest reply.
The guy laughs.
“We do whole thing for 150.”
One word. Extortion.
It was a smack in the face. A friggin back handed pimp style blow to my solo ego. $150 to shovel the f*%kin driveway dude? Really? That’s more than disrespectful, that just blasphemy. I waved him away and climbed back through the snow towards my garage, newly bitter.
- Battle #3- Machine Malfunction. So one thing that makes the whole driveway thing a lot easier is a snowblower. If it works right. Mine, however, is temperamental. It has issues. (Most likely due to my own neglect, not feeding it the oil and gas it needs) Having lost the manual some time ago, I have to re-figure out how to use the machine each year and then hope that it works. After telling the extortionist shovelers to go shove it, I was determined to get the blower on my side. I switched the levers, jiggled the gears, pushed the button, and maniacally pulled on the start chord, but it just grumbled at me. So, being the wise resourceful person that I am, I remembered (or stumbled across) the electric start cord. So I plug it in and PRESTO! It starts! I let the engine run for a while, just until I am slightly nauseous from the fumes, and when I reach that magic window between dizzy and unconscious, I push the machine out of the garage. Alright! Whoo hoo! Wait a minute… Struggling to maneuver the blower, I looked down and noticed it had a flat tire.
Stubborn broad that I am, I figure that if I can lean it over a bit, displacing
the weight on the good tire, I can make it around the driveway…. Worth a try. I leaned in with all of my weight, slipping and pushing, moving in small slow increments, but enough to keep going. My arms became sore, so I began using my leg muscles, pushing the machine around with my foot against the bar. Ridiculous. I got two rows done this way, when suddenly, as I’m turning into the 3rd row, the good tire gets tired and comes off of the axle. Great. I finally give up.
After dragging the machine back into the garage and myself back into the house, I ‘click’ to close the garage door, but the door doesn’t budge. ‘Click click’ Nothing. I feel empty inside. I go stand under the garage door machine staring up as if it was going to say something, mention what was wrong. I try to pull down the door instead, but it wouldn’t budge. Super.
- Battle #4- Customer Service. What else can I do but call for help? Good thing I have a warranty for these rude machines. I call about the blower first.
“We can have someone out to you…. Januray 20th.”
“Uhhhh… that’s like a month away.”
“That’s the first available date. There are a lot of requests.”
I would think more requests would lead to more technicians, but what do I know. I make the appointment for the 20th, sometime between now or never, and move on to the garage door people. Which brings me back to where I started.
The handy dandy garage repair guy listens to my story, and goes into examine the problem. He presses the inside button, looks at the wall and simply says “It’s not plugged in.” I gasped, realizing then that when I had plugged in the snowblower, I must have unplugged the garage door machine.
“That’ll be $75 please…”
How ridiculous that I should have to pay $75 for someone to stick a plug in a socket! But would having a husband really help with these problems? I guess it depends on the guy, but somewhere in my ever romanticizing head, I always imagine that I wouldn’t have to deal so much with those kinds of situations. But what are those situations? And am I being completely sexist or old fashioned in harboring such thoughts?
Over the summer, my friends and I were laughing at an experience we all had finding a bunch of maggots in the trash can (something about the extreme humidity of the summer). My friend pointed out “We need husbands, cuz I shouldn’t be dealing with that shit.” But are there things that are a man’s responsibility? I certainly wouldn’t want to be told that cooking and cleaning are my responsibility (unless I can fulfill that responsibility by hiring a maid service and making decisions about where to go for dinner).
Or is the whole notion of gender roles irrelevant nowadays? Now that women are making bank, should women and men be able to just buy whatever they need? For example, if I had enough money to throw $150 at the extortionists and have them clear my whole yard, would I care? Would I have felt less alone? Was it the inability to do something by myself that made me feel lonely, or was it something else? Are there things that a husband would bring to the table that can’t be bought? Love, intimacy, yes of course, but beyond that. Should women look to men to provide safety, stability? Or does having more money take care of that?