A couple of weeks ago, I bought a lawnmower from my neighbor. He had seen me hacking at the grass with my weed-eater for the past eight weekends, so he decided to give me first dibs on his old one before putting it up on Craigslist.
He intuited that I’d never used a lawnmower before, so he gave me a tutorial. Later in the day, he caught me trying to start the thing the wrong way and gave me a refresher course. The lesson stuck that time and I was able to do my front and backyards. Yay me.
This morning, I was stoked about taking the lawnmower out for another spin. I filled up the tank (after a long time of trying to figure out the mechanics of the gas can…maybe one day I’ll remember to read the instructions first!), rolled up my sleeves, pressed the priming thingie three times, and pulled and pulled and pulled and PULLED and it just wouldn’t start. Not to be discouraged, I picked up my weed-eater (which is electric) and hacked down the weeds against my fence. Maybe the lawnmower just needed a few more minutes to get used to the outdoors again. Then I returned to it optimistically.
I pulled and pulled and pulled and PULLED. Then I got a glass of water, wiped my brow, googled the operation manual to see if there was anything I’d missed, and pulled and pulled and PULLED some more.
“Hey, you need help?”
It was the neighbor I’d bought the mower from. As embarrassed as I was to be caught in the middle of incompetency, I was also quite relieved. He gave the cord one tug and it started.
“I’ve got a girly arm!” I said with more humor than I actually felt.*
I don’t want to bother my neighbor or anyone else with something as stupid as this. I hate being so weak. I hate perpetuating the stereotype that women are helpless. And I hate that there could possibly be an appliance that is off-limits to me just because I’m not physically strong. For the next two weeks, I’m going to be lifting weights. I’m going to get all Sarah Conner. That lawnmower better watch out! See, I’m still optimistic but part of me is afraid I’m always going to have to ask for help with this.
Women in similar situations, do you ever feel like this? I mean, feeling embarrassed and kinda pissed off when you realize that you’re too weak to do certain things, and feeling weird about it too?
*What I wanted to tell the guy is that I’ve got a girly right arm. My left arm is actually a lot stronger, as is the entire left side of my body. So maybe if the lawnmower’s design was reversed, I’d be better at starting it.