I have my times when I do ask for help. I have to. I prefer being independent, but even I have to rely on others at times. But this doesn’t apply to my whole life.
Including today’s client, I’ve had a few clients verbally applaud me for doing furniture assembly. The stereotype of construction-like things is traditionally male. But I’m not exactly traditional.
I grew up in a fixer-upper house and was my dad’s mini-me shadow. I knew hand tools -and how to use them- by the time I started kindergarten. I was about that age when I “helped” my dad and siblings with the substrate plywood layer on the flat roof of an addition to the house. I wasn’t very good at getting the nails hammered in right, but I still helped. I grew up watching This Old House with my dad. I still watch it.
When I was 19 and moved into my first apartment an hour away from my parents, I soon realized I was in a bad neighborhood, and being a suburban kid mostly sheltered from all of that, I bought a chain to put on my door. For a few weeks, I asked my male cousins and my dad if they could come over and install it.
After a few weeks, I gave up asking and headed to the store to buy my own damn screwdrivers and tools. I installed that chain myself. That was a turning point for me.
Over the years I’ve built basic furniture (the guys at HomeD always look at me funny), repaired old furniture, assembled more IKEA than most people I know… you get the idea.
So most of the tasks I get hired for are for assembling stuff from IKEA and Wayfair (do NOT get me started on them). To me, it’s just something I know how to do. Nothing spectacular. It never really occurred to me that this was anything different than the norm.
I’m a computer geek and I assemble things. Two things that are traditionally male-oriented. What I’ve found in these gigs is that clients who are female and live alone appreciate that they can hire another woman instead of having concerns over their personal safety by hiring a strange man through an app on their phone.
It’s physical work. And with all of my injuries reminding me of their existence, I do walk away sore and sometimes in pain. Okay, usually in pain. But I enjoy helping people. I can’t stand for very long before the pain sets in, so retail jobs are pretty much out, but these occasional gigs are fine, as long as I have a day to recover.
I’m not perfect. I have plenty of failings. But I am empowered by the comments I get from clients. They appreciate that they’re seeing a woman doing tasks that aren’t traditionally “feminine.” Yeah, sometimes I wear skirts…. but I’m certainly not super-femme. I’m just me. Sometimes I need help, sometimes I don’t. I do what I can. And sometimes, that’s not “traditional.”
Which is fine with me.