Thursday, 9 April 2009

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator: Part 3

Collage: construction, carpenters, hammers, nails, women
Credit: MS Office ClipArt - j0338018.wmf

Part 3 - They Were Nailed
I gleefully boarded the bus and bounded to my seat. This was not just any bus, but a bus chock full of male contractors and me, the lone female contractor.

We were heading out to a "contractor only" trade show hosted by a local lumberyard.

Once we arrived, I strolled into the show and looked around. There were many display booths of all shapes and sizes, presenting different construction products with their sales staff pitching their wares.

Wait. What is that in the corner over there? It's a contest! I love contests, so I hurried over and low and behold, it was a nailing contest. The hosts had put a 6 by 6 inch pressure treated post horizontally on 2 saw horses and the contestants were timed as to how long it took to hammer in 3 - 31/2 inch galvanized ardox nails.

There were separate categories for male and female entrants, so I took up the challenge and hoisted the hammer up. "GO!" said the fellow timing, and I took the first nail and smacked it hard! For those of you who don't know, ardox nails are the ones that have a spiral down the length of their shaft, which makes them rotate as they go into the wood. Since the hammer being used was not a framing hammer, it did not have the engraved criss cross on the face of it. As a consequence, if you don't hit the that type of nail right square on with that type of hammer, the hammer face slides a bit on contact as the nail turns and the nail flies off into space. It flew all right and careened wildly through the air as the male spectators watched in horror and ducked with all their might.

The organizers told me to try again, so I took the next nail and waited for the signal. "GO" the fellow shouted, the spectators ducked in readiness and I drove that first nail into the wood with all my fury, all the way to China. I hurriedly grabbed the next nail, smacked it hard home and then the final one which pounded into the wood almost too easily, now that I had warmed up.

The amazed look of the fellow on the timer is forever etched in my mind. Once all the guys had come up from their respective hiding places they too stood there, dazed at my performance, like deer caught in the headlights.

By the end of the day, I had come in first in the women's category and third in the men's, although I was ineligible to collect the prize in the men's category.

When the winners were announced, the male first place winner arrived at the front and collected his prize, a battery operated hammer drill. Not a bad prize at all thought I, as I walked up to collect mine.

To my surprise, I was not awarded a drill, but instead was handed a tiny tool pouch. Some of the fellows on my bus had won them as door prizes, and they were laughingly referring to them as "purses".

The very next day, I was at the local lumberyard and ran into some of the contractors, all of whom were trading their "purses" in for more useful items.

A woman who I did not know came up to me and congratulated me on my nailing acumen, and then introduced herself as the new assistant manager. She asked me how I liked the show and I told her it was lovely, but then laughed and explained how I had received a "purse" instead of a drill as a prize.

By jeepers, she had a new drill waiting for me that afternoon. It turns out that the male organizers assumed that the female participants of the nailing contest would only have been secretaries or wives or girlfriends, and did not think that there would actually be a female contractor around.

I look forward to this year's show, knowing that whichever gal wins the contest, she won't be going home with a purse.

Janice Bell
Bell Renovating
2009 © Janice Bell

Tales from the Renovation Track: One Woman’s Experiences of Being a Renovator
Part 1: All in All
Part 2: Weld on Fire
Part 3: They Were Nailed
Part 4: It Pays to Be Honest
Part 5: Rural Renos
Part 6: Messy Is Costly
Part 7: Door Hell
Part 8: Just Where Do I Stop?
Part 9: Dressing for the Trades

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