So we were tearing out and replacing most everything, except the cast iron tub. After all, it's a cast iron tub, and I think with just re-glazing it will be as good as new, except the plumber and contractor—both men—tell me that the handles and faucet are corroded and need to be replaced.
I know that either man, fairly enough, will add the price of his time for getting the replacement parts for me, and the purchase will delay the work another day or so. I want to save time. I want to save money.
So I ask for a list of the replacement parts, say I’ll get them at Lowe’s or Home Depot.
They laugh. Explain: these aren’t Lowe’s or Home Depot parts. These are plumbing contractor supply store parts.
OK, I say, where’s that store? These are nice men, gentlemen, who call me ma’am, and ask about my day, eat their sandwiches on the porch (though I tell them to bring their lunches inside; it’s chilly outside), and work efficiently and quietly. But suddenly, there’s a bit of a knowing look between them, a bit of a smirk… ladies can shop at Lowe’s or Home Depot, sure. But only real men can shop at a plumbing contractor’s supply store.
Now, I’m not a real man. In fact, I’m a real lady. Dressed in kitten heel ankle boots, cute with my tights and skirt, on the way out for real lady errands: lunch with other real ladies and picking up writers’ group white wine at the liquor store.
But in spite of being 51-years-old, I suddenly remember being told I couldn’t take woodshop in 6th grade, couldn’t learn the punch-card computer in 7th grade, and despite placing higher than every girl AND boy on the math placement test in 8th grade, being shooed away from taking higher math or science in 9th grade, and stopping with math or science all together after 10th grade.
Now, I’m sure not going to be held back from something so simple as buying parts at a plumbing contractor’s supply store because I am woman. Hear me roar.
So I demand the list, which the men give me, along with a bag of the old bathtub plumbing parts and directions to the plumbing contractor’s supply store, located in what remains of the warehouse and machine shop district of my industrial hometown.
After lunch and picking up the white wine, I find the plumbing contractor’s supply store. I walk in and am immediately confused, for indeed this is not a hardware store, a la Lowe’s or Home Depot or even a cozy Ace.
This is a bar.