Just a Woman

Each person has individual views, beliefs, expectations, and cultural norms. I realize that not everyone thinks the same way I do. My mother-in-law was married in 1956, and her ideas about life differ greatly from mine. I respect her views. She respects mine. Neither of us try to change the other, and we get along fine.

My mother raised me with the belief that I must take care of myself. She often told me that she did not want me to be dependent upon other people. She explained that I must stand on my own feet and know how to take care of myself regardless of where the paths of my life may lead me. She taught me that to be completely dependent upon others makes me vulnerable. Mom also taught me that if I can’t fix something myself, there’s no shame in hiring a repair person. My fingers dial a phone just fine.

That independent mindset is an integral part of who I am as a person. My car recently developed some problems. I tried to discern the problem, myself. When I failed, I called a auto repair shop and made an appointment. It didn’t even occur to me to have my husband look at it first or make that decision. If he was a mechanic, I certainly would have discussed the issue with him first. However, he has just about as much mechanical knowledge as me. Therefore, I mentioned the appointment to him, and he told me that he hoped it was nothing serious. End of discussion.

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That being said, I was shocked at what one woman told me yesterday.  She came into my office requesting assistance. Her husband was in the hospital, she didn’t have any money, and her air conditioner stopped working. I asked her if it was frozen up, which is certainly common here in Missouri this time of year. My own unit freezes up every now and then. Her response was what really left me speechless. She said, “I don’t know anything. I’m just a woman.”

I sat and stared at her for a moment before attempting to explain how she could tell if her air conditioner was frozen up and what to do if that was the case. Then she really blew my mind. She said, “You don’t to seem to understand. I don’t have a man around to do that.”

One of my male coworkers came along about then. I explained the situation to him, and he agreed with me. Then the two of us attempted to gently explain that she should check her breakers, listen to see if she could hear the unit making any strange noises, look at her coils to see if they had ice on them, and turn the unit off for several hours before turning it back on to see if it started cooling again.

The lady was hoping that I could just take care of the situation for her. I work for a community action agency in the Weatherization department. We make homes more energy efficient. We can only serve a home that has not been weatherized since 1994, and she received our services a few years ago. Therefore, we cannot return to her home.

I referred her to some other programs where she might be able to get some assistance in paying for a repair, but there’s no quick solution or guarantee that anyone has funds for that sort of thing. I encouraged her again to at least look at her air conditioner. She was still resistant, but told me that she would ask her niece’s husband if he would look at it for her.

I understand that everyone has a comfort zone, and that it’s unpleasant to step outside of that zone. However, I think it’s a good idea to at least nudge your foot out of the zone every now and then. It’s never too late to learn new things. It wasn’t too long ago that my step-son gave me a welding lesson. If I can lay a bead, there’s no telling what we can do if put our minds to it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings today. If you have, please subscribe, like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or find me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.

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