We’ve discussed some issues previously in the blog that are unique to women in the trades, like wearing hard hats with long hair (not as unique to women as I originally thought as some men also commented), or finding safety equipment to fit, or figuring out how to work while well-endowed, especially around high voltage – underwires and electricity do not mix! This story deals with the discomfort created by polyester man-pants. It’s another awesomely hilarious tale from my favorite guest blogger, Haley Gadzik, Plumber Extraordinaire! A great read for any woman working in the trades in a uniform that’s not quite made for your shape.
-Karen DeSousa, HVAC Chick
Written by Haley Gadzik, The Chicago Faucet Shoppe, J. Blanton Plumbing
Turns out there are some unique challenges related to being a female-presenting person required to wear clothes made for dudes that I did not fully anticipate. Diarrhy, mens’ pants worn in the wintertime without mens’ underwear CHAFE. All that extra man-pant fabric that is so great for allowing you to move your legs in at least seven different directions (amazing), and for carrying THINGS without a PURSE, and for appearing very big and tough and not at all concerned with how cute your butt is ’cause you’re a MAN, also likes to swish its’ polyester-cotton-blend self around your not-acclimated-to-Chicago-winter upper thighs and make you wish to god you could trade your weak human flesh (moisturize!!) for the leathery, scaled armor of an armadillo. But obviously that would be really difficult, so instead you spend the rest of the day walking like a cartoon cowboy and ask your mom to get you boxer briefs for Christmas. Anyway, now that problem is pretty much solved. Now I just get to eagerly wait for the day that some slimemaster asks what I’ve got on under my uniform so I can yank down my pants and yell “TWINSIES”.
Another issue is, just, like, general bigness. It’s tough to be taken seriously when you look like a four-year-old who is trying on her dad’s trousers and who definitely does NOT want to be chased by the tickle monster because she’s a GWOWN UP NOW, DAD WOOK. Thank god for sewing machines and costume shop experience giving me the ability to alter clothes, because I personally am of the mind that it’s a lot more reassuring (if less adorable) to open the door to an actual adult woman when your bidet is uncontrollably blasting water to the heavens than to Michelle Tanner.
But you know, while it’s possible the folks at the uniform company were not totally prepared to accommodate the particular needs of a lady plumber, they did try their best. I could tell right away by the way that they helped me with the spelling of my name on my badge. All my life I’ve been spelling it “H-a-l-e-y” (which is, of course, what I wrote on the order form), and when I received my uniforms they had very kindly included the “i” that I’ve been leaving out all this time. You can imagine my embarrassment- like no one telling you you’ve got a piece of spinach caught in your teeth for 23 years. But all’s well that ends well, I suppose- thanks to this job I’ve got brand new underwear, brand new fitted slacks, and a brand new identity. Perks.