For everyone who has heard “It’s your age,” this article is for you.
I have reached the age when this diagnosis has been applied to whatever thing I might be grumbling about. I must explain, though, that this conclusion has not come from my doctor. She is very open to understanding and interpreting, without bias, whatever is going on with me. No. The people who try to sweep my issues under the carpet are, mostly, just me. Also, in varying degrees, complete strangers.
But, this is not about me. This is about the limitations that make life difficult for people like me. (Do you see what I did there? Not about me, but people like me. OK?)
If I could, I’d repair my own car. I already do the basic stuff like keeping the oil topped up and the tires full of air, but I can’t do something as simple as changing a tire. This really pisses me off. I have to go to the dealership twice a year to get my tires changed from winter to all-season and back again. (Note: in Canada, all-season tires are good for only three seasons.) Why can’t I do it myself? I can’t change my tires because the nuts and bolts that hold them on require a magic wrench and a strong arm. Even if I had the magic wrench, I don’t have a strong arm.
I don’t mind not having a strong arm, but I do mind that the tires are designed to be unlocked only by people with strong arms. Why can’t they be more accessible? I would like car manufacturers to please devise a gadget for ordinary weak-armed people to be able to change their own tires. Is that too much to ask?
Do you know what else I can’t do? I can’t reach the top shelves in my kitchen cupboards. I have a step stool that I can bring out when necessary, but mostly I just don’t put anything that I use very often on the top shelves. They have become the kitchen version of the garage: a waiting room for things destined for the thrift store. If you Google for images of a woman reaching upper kitchen shelves, you won’t find them.
If I were a kitchen cupboard designer, I would bring them all down to the countertop level. Forget the backsplash. Bring the counter and sink out another twelve inches and lower all the cabinets eighteen inches. That way we can all reach the top shelves. Then the lower sinks, cabinets, and drawers would be extended out another foot, and this would be great! This is where we really need the space so that we can easily put away all our whisks, serving spoons, and Tupperware. Good idea, yes? You are welcome.
It just seems as though there are a lot of things that are designed to make life difficult for short, weak people so that we have to go to taller, stronger people (not even experts!) to get things done. If I were taller and stronger I could dig out my lawn and replace it with a vegetable garden. If I were taller and stronger I could repaint the trim on my house. If I were taller and stronger I could take out the wallboard in my suite and replace it with drywall. But no, they’ve made all these things too difficult. Even climbing a ladder requires someone to hold it steady. Why can’t they make ladders that will work steadily for short, weak, unsteady people working alone?
Given enough time and tools, I could manage. I could do all these things unaided. But as it is, I have to ask friends and relatives for help. If they are unable to help, I have to call a professional and they cost a lot of money. In fact, what they don’t tell you about retirement is that you need money for tradespeople. Never mind paying for housing, food, and transportation. You will also be made totally dependent on other people for all sorts of practical things, and those people don’t come cheap.
My theory is that there should be technology available to allow people like myself to be functionally independent. If I’d known earlier that it wasn’t available, I would have worked ten years longer at my job to save up to hire tradespeople. Since I didn’t do that, I’m writing to ask all inventors to do what they can to meet this need. It isn’t my age, it’s the lack of the necessary gadgets to enable me, and similarly competent people, to fix things.
Also, it would be nice if Google Images had pictures of women actually doing any of the above-mentioned things. As I said, it isn’t about me. It’s about people like me.