Fitter Girl

Dripping wet, 98 pounds, it’s summer, carrying steel from one side of the room to the other.

“hey, fitter girl, why you want to do this?”   I think to myself, “she wants a baby and we can’t live on a woman’s pay”

I say, “I was unhappy sitting behind a desk.”

“hey, fitter girl, I thought “take your daughter to work day was YESTERDAY!”  (laughter)

I continue working.

Home, soaking wet, exhausted, bruises on my shoulders from carrying pipes.

“kathy, can you go get me mac donalds?”

“ok.”

“hey, fitter girl?  can you bring me a left handed pipe wrench?”

My middle finger goes up.

I decide I need to focus on something to be valuable.  Because being a 98 pound girl won’t cut it.  I decide I’m going to be a kick butt welder.  I go to the hall and practice for hours each night.  I get decent.
Time for a new job site.  New foreman, I’ve never met him before.  “you ain’t like M.W. are you?  ’cause she’s an asshole and you better not be like her.”

I don’t know her, but I’m my own person and hopefully not an asshole.”

“hey fitter girl? do you wanna suck me off?”

I carry a core drill up a ladder because there’s no stairway yet.  No I don’t want to suck you off.  “she wants a baby, that’s why I’m doing this.”  

Home.  She hasn’t brushed her hair.  There’s food in the garbage disposal from yesterday.  She’s playing video games.  “can you get me Mac Donalds?”

“ok.”

it’s raining, next day on the job site.  Mud.  slogging.  The welder doesn’t show up.  My chance.  I say to the foreman, “I can weld.”

~skeptical look across his face~….”okay, let’s see what you’ve got.”

New machine, plugs it in.  I put on my welding hood, I’m going to totally impress him.  The rod spits and sputters, just won’t run right.  I felt sick.  Terrified that maybe I didn’t know how to weld after all.

“it’s not working right.”   He curses and puts on the hood, picks up the stinger, and lo and behold, doesn’t work for him either.

Machine was hooked to the wrong voltage.

“hey, fitter girl?  you shouldn’t be welding.  you shouldn’t be here.”

I was up near the ceiling.  Somehow a shower of sparks happened to fall on the guy who said that.

Foreman:  “you won me over, you have that line over there to weld, I’ll give you K.Z. to pimp.”

Home.  It’s my thirtieth birthday.  She throws a twenty at me and tells me to buy something.  Lovely.

“she wants a baby but I don’t think she’d be a good Mom.” 

“hey, fitter girl?  Wanna go out with me?”

not really.

My welding hood drops and he’s gone and she’s gone and all that exists is the glowing puddle of metal.  Salvation.  Resurrection.  Zen.  Meditation.  Peace.

“hey, fitter girl?  You’re ok.”

“I’m damned good, is what I am.”  

 

 

Elaine Adams

I was in class and heard that it was a substitute teacher, it was math class.  I walked in to class and saw a woman dressed to the hilt like it was thirty years prior.  Cat glasses.  Heels.  Everything was a flashback from the fifties.  And me, not being able to hear, was fixated on the flashback.  And excruciatingly aware of how bad the rest of my classmates were treating her.

My classmates also treated me badly, I was the lowest on the pecking order.  Bullied quite a bit.  High school sucked.  So I empathized with Ms. Adams.  She’d teach for a couple days, then the regular teacher would come back.

The students were horrible to her.  I think because she was several decades behind, appearance/fashion wise.  So stupid.  I saw her  close to tears several times.  I reached out to her.  As, just, “I’m as demonized as you are.”

I was just trying to survive.  It surprised me when she took me under her wing.  She took me to mother/daughter events.  She showed an interest in my success.

Elaine.

I struggled in math.  She tutored me.

Elaine.

She had no daughter.  I went with her to the mother/daughter event at her church.

Elaine.

My brother told me that NASA would call her and she’d do math problems that nobody else could figure out.

Elaine.

Sabrina called me and I saw Elaine in myself.

I mentored Sabrina.

Elaine.

I looked her up today and found out she had died in 2014.  I also found out that she was quite the philanthropist.  And that she took a special interest in women and girls succeeding in math.

Elaine.

Was she a lesbian?

Elaine.

It doesn’t matter if she was a lesbian or not, she loved and wanted girls to succeed.

Elaine.

Happy Mothers Day, Elaine!

From your adopted daughter, Kathy.
I made it.  Hopefully I can help others as you helped me.