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Week in Review: “Don’t They Have a Guy to Do That?”


It’s been a week.

This past week, the YMCA of the Rockies was veritably taken over by a very large group, and several more large groups arrived toward the end of the week and this weekend. That’s put a strain on all of our staff to get more done, more quickly, with the same quality of work as always. And a smile. 🙂DSCN1604So here’s my story of the week:

On Sunday, I was delivering vacuums to a housekeeping crew, who, like everyone else on this (insane!) Sunday, was being asked to get more done, more quickly, with or without the smile. As I hoisted the vacuum up the stairs, a coworker called out to me, “Don’t they have a guy to do that for you?”

I know her sentiment came from a good place in her heart. She was, shall we say, of a different generation, and this was her way of saying, “You’re working hard. I recognize that and I wish you could get a break.”

Still, I put my hands on my hips and said, “I am a gal, and I’ll carry my own vacuum, thank you very much.”

My coworker laughed.

It is a funny thing about my job, though. Hot shots here at the Y do a lot of heavy lifting, and out of 7 hot shots, only 2 of us are women. Once, I responded to a call from a guest who needed help moving a chair, and when I arrived, she said, “I was expecting a man.” That guest was also of a different generation. My male coworkers (who are awesome, by the way) often arrive just in time to help me push the ice cream truck or offer to carry heavier items. Male guests turn down my offers to help carry their luggage. My boss once expressed guilt that he assigned me the task of driving around the Y to pick up signs and sandbags.

It is true, in fact, that some of my male coworkers can lift more than I can. Let’s face it: I’m a fairly petite woman, and I’ve never had particularly amazing upper body strength. So, yes, sometimes when my colleagues say, “Why don’t you carry that and I’ll carry this?” I say, “Sure. Thank you.” But I can lift what I can lift, I can do what my body can do, and sometimes I get a little…opinionated…at the suggestion that because I’m a woman, I shouldn’t (or can’t) exert my strength. Maybe it’s tougher for me to lift 40 pounds than it is for your average 18-year-old man, but if I can do it safely and effectively, I see no reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to.

Okay. Rant over. Picture of butterfly.DSCN1614I’m smooth.

Other highlights of the week for this Week in Review:Week In Review Button FinalA success: I was finally able to get my hot li’l hannies on a few of the documents I need to apply for Colorado residency. I’ve only panicked going through that process a couple of times.

An experiment: I’ve been taking a very high dose of daily probiotics (specifically, Garden of Life’s Raw Probiotics for Women), simply as another possible strategy to combat my IBS symptoms. I’ve heard from a number of sources who say probiotics are very effective, including a guest who really encouraged me to try them. A number of recent studies have also indicated that following the low-FODMAP diet for too long can significantly diminish your population of good gut bacteria, and that’s not at all good for your digestive health. I’ll see how it goes. At first, I thought it was really making a huge difference, but the past couple of days, I haven’t been feeling any better than normal.

A challenge: Working 7 straight days in a row. I’m doing this so that I’ll have off Tuesday and Wednesday when my folks come through Fort Collins next week, and then again when they come stay at the Y for a couple of days the week after. Still, I am tired and sore.DSCN1606Another challenge: Teenagers demanding ice cream flavors that we had sold out on.

A shock: Spilling melted chocolate ice cream all down the front of my pants after taking out trash for a guest picnic. Thank goodness I had a change of clothes in my room not too far away.

A joy: Doing maidservice for families with little kids and arranging their stuffed animals on their pillows the way housekeeping staff used to do for me when I was little.

A kind of therapy: Folding t-shirts and arranging them by size in neat little piles.

A couple blog posts: A What I Ate Wednesday and a post about the challenge of trying to ignore calorie counts after having memorized so many of them.DSCN1602

An outing: Went with a couple of friends that I’ve made here at the Y for half-price movie night. We saw The Secret Life of Pets. It wasn’t great…but it wasn’t terrible either. Mostly, it was good to hang out with friends, as I tend to be pretty introverted.

Women readers: Has anyone ever suggested to you that you were incapable of something you could totally do?


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  1. Quill says:

    You ask female readers if it’s ever been suggested they couldn’t do something they could due to their gender – that can happen to men as well, though I’d imagine probably a lot less often. One I remember was in High School, I was telling a classmate about how my mom was out of town for about a month, leaving me to fend for myself (which I was completely capable of). He asked, with some disbelief, who cooked for me if I was home alone. My answer was “I cook for myself. Just because I have a penis doesn’t mean I can’t cook!” I can also do laundry, sew, braid (though I usually do that in a “manly” way, braiding together wires in my car), and an assortment of other traditionally “feminine” tasks. This is why men need Feminism, to show that we are just as capable of these things (or ought to be) and shouldn’t be judged for doing them.

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks for sharing, Quill. Yes, it’s totally true: people make assumptions about what men are and are not capable of just like they do with women. And it’s dumb. One thing I really try to emphasize to people is that all people, men and women, are harmed by a system that limits us because of our gender. Cooking, sewing, and laundry, are all very useful skills, and I think it’s awesome that more and more guys in our generation are figuring out how to do that stuff and contributing to those tasks in their households, just like more and more women have high-paying jobs and get degrees in engineering and awesome stuff like that. Also, I’m terrible at braiding hair. Now I know who to call!

  2. Diane Wahto says:

    I used to be able to lift anything. In fact, when we lived in Decatur, Michigan, and your dad was little, I wanted my washing machine to be out of the kitchen and down in the basement. So I grabbed it, after unhooking everything, and walked it down the stairs. I lifted loads of wet laundry that weighed a ton and when your Uncle Curt was a baby I carried that laundry up and down hills to the laundromat because we didn’t have a washing machine. Now, things are different, and if I didn’t have Pat to do the heavy lifting, it wouldn’t get done. Be sure to protect your back. That’s the most important thing about lifting heavy items.

    1. Joyce says:

      Lift with your legs, not your back. 😉

  3. People make assumptions about women all the time…and race and sexuality and religion. It’s frustrating to be sure.

    I love you set up the stuffed animals for the little kids. I bet they’ll remember those little details for a long time, the same way you did.

    Seven straight days of work: Ouch, that’s a lot. Enjoy the time off with your parents. I’m sure it’ll be worth it.

    1. Joyce says:

      I sure hope they’ll remember the stuffed animal arrangements. It’s the little things. 🙂

  4. Dan Anderson-Little (GR) says:

    Thank you for posting, Joyce. I find your writing very honest and thoughtful. I’m glad to hear a little about you and your summer!

    1. Joyce says:

      Great to hear from you, Dan! Hope you’re having a great summer too. Did you finish that philosophy degree?

      1. Dan Anderson-Little (GR) says:

        I’m having a good summer, but I do miss Ghost Ranch often. I ended up with a “Humanities” degree, but it was for the best because I got to focus on graphic design and doing internships for class credit.

        1. Joyce says:

          That’s awesome! I didn’t know you were into design–I’m glad you got to do something you’re really interested in.

  5. Ellie says:

    You know, one thing my job gets right is that we all do every part of the job. On the application it asks if you can lift 50lbs. So we all do all the lifting, girls, guys, everyone. We do give my one coworker who is over 50 a break because that’s just a nice thing to do and she’s been with the company for like 20 years.
    Sometimes if I can’t get something heavy up on a high shelf, I ask for help, but it’s no shame. I simply am not strong enough to do it by myself 🙂

  6. Cora says:

    Oooooh you just hit on a Cora-hot-spot. I’ve been, let’s say, rather “stubborn,” my entire life, and growing up with two brothers made for one very stubborn little girl convinced she could do everything her brothers could. I absolutely hated when someone – like my parents – would give my brothers and I different tasks. I would always, just in spire of them, go over and do whatever my brothers were doing.
    Of course, now that I’ve grown somewhat more wise and mature, I totally accept that obviously I cannot lift as much as a grown man. But you better believe I can lift more than I may appear that I can. I will no longer push myself past my limit just to prove something, but I will happily do the heavy work that I am capable of.
    I really appreciate Quill’s comment from above – its true that we have stereotypes and unfair assumptions about anyone based on their sex. Boo to that. But you kicked ass this week, in SO many ways. Can’t wait till you get those days off next week to make up for the crazy amount of work you are doing right now. You go girl.

  7. It really grinds my gears when men assume that some can’t lift things or carry heavy stuff. I always just smile and say that Ive got it myself and watch their faces kind of in disbelief that I can carry something so heavy. People always tell me that I’m stronger than I look and I always reply “You bet I am!”. Seriously- people need to get with it!

    1. Joyce says:

      But that’s the thing–you can’t necessarily tell how strong someone is just by looking at them. 😉 You go girl!

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