Ready or Not: Ms. Fix-it

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated each time some unexpected project came up that needed to be addressed.”

As a single woman who has lived on her own for years, it’s safe to say that I’ve spent a good amount of money paying professionals to fix things around the house. When I lived in an apartment, it was fairly easy to pick up the phone to call the leasing office or submit a maintenance request. However, when I lived in my condo, I became responsible for all upkeep. This was one of the biggest reality checks of my life.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated each time some unexpected project came up that needed to be addressed. When the bulb in my closet stopped working, I thought it would be a simple fix. Wrong. After buying a new bulb, I learned that the entire light fixture needed to be replaced. With the help of my father and YouTube videos, I was able to turn off the power source to my master closet and replace the fixture without getting electrocuted.

“Using our combined brainpower, we figured out how to replace the lights and all was well in my home again.”

After that, the track lights in my kitchen gave out. They weren’t as easy to fix because the electrical panel wasn’t clearly labeled to indicate the power source. As a result, I had to play guess-and-check to determine which power source needed to be cut off. After consulting a professional electrician, I learned that there are instruments at home improvement stores that take the guesswork out of the whole ordeal, but I wasn’t really trying to spend money to purchase the apparatus. Once again, I called my father for help. Using our combined brainpower, we figured out how to replace the lights and all was well in my home again.

By far the biggest job that had to be done in my condo was fixing the toilet in my master bathroom. There was no way I could’ve done this job by myself, and my father was not skilled in this area at all. In fact, he was the one who encouraged me to call in the pros. While I could’ve used the second bathroom, it simply was an inconvenience I didn’t want to deal with. I dilly-dallied before finally shopping around for quotes because I really didn’t want to spend the hundreds of dollars I knew they were going to charge me. Plus, my condo was located in a more affluent community than my previous residences, so I suspected the price would soar simply because of my zip code.

Well, thank the Lord God in heaven for friends. After mentioning my issues to a friend, she volunteered her father services to help me out. To say that I was relieved would be an understatement; I was elated. And how much did it cost? Like $50 (or less). Her father was gracious and only required that I pay for the replacement parts. One Sunday after church, they came over for a few hours and resolved my bathroom issues. I couldn’t have been happier. When I asked her father how he learned to perform such a task, he told me he had grown frustrated shelling out money to have professionals come to his home to perform similar jobs. Being proactive, he watched them diligently and learned how to do his own household repairs. Fellow navigator, after my friend’s father completed the job, I never had issues with the toilet again. Score!

What’s the moral of the post? As a single woman, I came to the realization years ago that, despite what the world and TV shows tell us, life skills are not gender specific. Learning how to reconcile a bank account, do taxes, change a flat tire, switch out a dead light fixture, or replace a faulty toilet valve is not something only men can do. When you’re in a situation and don’t have the money (or want to pay the money) to fix something around the house, you have to decide if you’re willing to try to learn something new. Just so we’re clear, I would never voluntarily replace a bad carburetor or rewire a major light fixture. However, I’ve determined that I will do my best to learn how to do things around the house for my own personal edification; I will not wait around for a man to show up in my life and leave everything to him.

What about you, fellow navigator? If you live alone, what are some things around the house you’ve learned to do? Have you ever had to pay for a repair that you knew, if given training, you could’ve done on your own? Tell me about it!

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