by Caren Crane
A few weeks ago, my best friend confessed that she had no water running from her kitchen faucet, although the side sprayer worked fine. Her husband has been dealing with a mother in very poor health, who lives 4-1/2 hours away from them. He has been trying to work his full-time job while also running her to dialysis, therapy, doctor's appointments and the hospital (which is 3 hours from where she lives). Bad situation and not one that is conducive to DIY plumbing repairs. They don't have money to call a plumber, so the faucet is still not working.
My friend has friends from out of town coming to stay in a little over a week, so the plumbing issue is making her anxious. After listening to her lament about it this week, I finally said the words I had been carefully holding back behind my bitten tongue ever since I first heard about the faucet. "Why don't you fix it yourself?"
As most women know, those words can put a strain on a friendship if not said with lots of love and every intention of pitching in to help. I said them with love and promptly began to offer help – from my desk at work, with links to articles and videos on the Internet. Every suggestion was met with stumbling blocks as to why it wouldn't work in her case. Finally, I realized the real issue was the same one I knew existed all along: my BFF, whom I love so dearly, is a Damsel In Distress.
Now, there is nothing wrong with being a Damsel In Distress. Most of the time, the Damsel flings her soft white hands in the air and rushes off to inform the closest male (significant other, relative, friend or co-worker) of her plight. He rushes in (or moseys over, or rolls his eyes) and fixes it (or promises to...someday or calls someone). I confess, I am not a Damsel In Distress, but I have played one on occasion, especially when it's computer-related and my techno-nerd husband is just upstairs. Or, you know, when I just don't feel like cleaning the dead bird off the porch or mucking out the gutters or whatever.
Damsels are very clever women, well-versed in the art of getting men (or other women) to do distasteful things for them. But they need lots of patience and I simply don't have enough! I tend to be more of a Rosie the Riveter. The kind of woman who rolls up her sleeves and gets things done, by gum. I come from a long line of Rosies and my mother and oldest sister were (and are) amazing DIY role models.
After my lovingly offered advice was dispensed, I took what was, perhaps, a rather unhealthy interest in my BFF's faucet with the stuck diverter (my diagnosis). I learned more about kitchen faucets this week than I ever wanted to know! I was determined we would fix it this weekend while her husband was out of town. I also figured if the Allen screw was corroded in place or something, I could always call my husband, Damsel-style, to come lend us his muscle. :P Then we found out it is impossible to get replacement parts for this particular faucet, so my poor BFF will have to get by with the sprayer alone until they can afford a new faucet. So much for me playing Rosie and getting things done! :(
So, are you a Damsel in Distress, willing and able to coax men (or other women) into riding to your rescue? Or are you a Rosie the Riveter, hitting the home improvement store for parts and the Internet (or even a man) for advice? And what is the toughest home repair you have either tackled yourself or convinced someone to tackle for you? I can't wait to hear your stories!