Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Dumb Broad

This incident at work got me really torqued up. A woman about my age (51) comes in and pays in advance for $5 worth of gas that she's going to put in a gerrycan (it's lawn-mowing season and gerrycans abound). She gets her little 1-gallon gerrycan, goes to the gas pump, and stands there. Looks at the gerrycan, looks at the pump, looks around with this blank expression on her face. Picks up the pump-hose, looks at it, looks at the gerrycan. Hangs up the hose. Looks around again with the befuddled expression. She was really stumped; she had no idea how to get that gas from the pump to the gerrycan. She's gotten gas for her car lots of times, but for some reason using the same pump to put gas in the gerrycan was a real challenge. She continued her damsel-in-distress act until my co-worker filled the can for her. I'd been watching all this in disgust, debating whether to go out and give her a hand. Part of me felt sorry for her, but mostly I felt amazement and loathing that she could get to be that old and not know how to do something as simple as filling a gerrycan. How had she managed this feat of willful ignorance? Probably because her husband does all that kind of stuff for her.

That's what happens when you let your partner do all your dirty work; you end up without the most basic survival skills. The one benefit of getting older is the accumulated knowledge from years of trying new things, failing, succeeding, figuring things out. Independence commands respect. And therein lies the problem. For every woman who does her own mechanical work, hammering of nails and wiping of hard drives, there are 10 out there who can't fill a gerrycan. So that's how the world sees us: stranded in a parking lot, blinking with astonishment at a simple task we find ourselves unable to do, waiting for someone to come to the rescue. And we wonder why we're so disrespected.