Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm a Widow....Take Advantage of Me


To Like or Not to Like. I might as well get the ball rolling......

When I was growing up, I lived in the post Ozzie and Harriet world. They still taught girls home economics in school, complete with cooking and sewing and there was still the expectation that girls would grow up to be wives and mothers not members of the workforce. Even with women's lib on the forefront of  politics as well as the headline of the evening news, many of us girls still dreamed of a future as someones wife, not the CEO of a fortune 500 company. Then add to my world, a father who let me know at every turn that because I was a girl (or maybe just because I was me) that I couldn't do anything and you had a recipe for a young woman that needed a man in her life just to make sure she could dress herself daily. More than once I heard my dad say that he couldn't wait for a guy to come along and take me off his hands because I would never be able to take care of myself. I was never given a skill set to survive in the world and yet I was looked down on for not knowing my way.

Even as a young adult, my father would step in and handle car repairs, finances and various other things...because I was a girl and couldn't handle those things for myself. All the while though, he let me know that I was somehow less in his eyes because he "had" to help me. Yes, my young adult years were very special.

When I finally found that guy who would take me off my dads hands and I got married, my husband took over  most of the "guy" stuff. If the car needed fixed, bills needed paid or something needed handled, he usually did it. Somewhere along the line though, I had bought into the propaganda that I wasn't smart enough or skilled enough to handle life for myself, so letting my husband do it all seemed pretty natural. After all....what did I know about care repairs or health insurance???? 

This all worked out fine until the day I woke up and realized that my husband was dead and there was no one there now but me to handle things. Tim may have died but the car still broke down, bills still needed paid and the house still needed repairs from time to time. Unfortunately the moment he died, apparently a neon sign flipped on on my forehead flashing "I'm a widow....take advantage of me!" Having no previous skills dealing with any of this and people learning that I was a widow was an obvious and open invitation for every skeezy care salesman, mechanic and fix-it guy to come out of the woodwork and try to bilk me out of my non-existent inheritance. I can safely say that in the first six months of becoming a widow, since I was barely functioning as a human let alone knowing what I was doing where anything else was concerned, no less that four individuals tried to overcharge me because they thought they could get by with it.

It wasn't long after that, I realized that there was no "man" to take care of me and  that I had to take care of myself and learn the ways of the world. First of all, I quit letting people (especially men who were providing a service such as car repair) know that I was a widow. In fact, if I was quoted a price on anything....I would always say, "I will have to discuss this with my husband first." A time or two I had "gentlemen" insist that they speak to my husband as they really didn't want to do business with me. I did them one better and took my business elsewhere. I also began reading up on any work I needed done to at least learn the terminology of the task at hand. You would be surprised how a few properly placed words in a sentence can back a shyster down.

Slowly but surely, I realized that I could do this stuff. I wasn't the imbecilic female that I had been brought up to believe I was. Come to find out too, I was actually paying attention on occasion when Tim was dealing with people and I picked up a thing or two. No, widowhood was not easy. In fact it sucked....for the obvious reasons and the not so obvious ones, however, I was learning the ropes and figuring out how to be a woman who knew very little about most things but who could fake her way through a lot. After the first year, my taken advantage of rate went from about 75% to less than 5% and along the way I gained some knowledge, confidence and self-esteem.

In the last couple of years my backbone has grown exponentially. I have also learned that it is not only less than honorable men and crooked repair people that are out to take advantage of anyone they feel is a possible easy prey. There are also plenty of others out there who think that their position or person can intimidate or even terrorize a woman alone with no male support system. After years of dealing with repairmen, car dealers, insurance companies, schools, co-workers and even medical professionals, I finally developed a thick skin and a sharp tongue. I learned to educate myself and then defend myself with facts. Of late I have been told I have quite the reputation for being less than pleasant to deal with because of my acquired skills. I have even been known of late, to stand up and fight for others. Apparently there are those in my hemisphere that prefer to no longer be around me and walk quickly and decidedly in the other direction when they see me coming. To that I say....GOOD!

Recently, with summer being upon us and me trying to find the positives in life.....I have let go a bit and put my poison computer keys and "treacherous tongue" (not my words) to rest. Then a couple of weekends ago, I was once again reminded why I had to become the not so lovely version of my former self. It all happened when I found myself dealing with a home improvement store. I haven't decided as of yet whether I will put them on blast or not so I will not throw out the name just yet. I was treated well by several in the store, but two "men" who were managers crossed the line with me. Why? Because I was a woman in a predominantly male venue. One man basically told me that I didn't know what I was talking about and tried to take complete advantage of my lack of knowledge on lumber (except it turns out that I had more knowledge than either of us realized) and the other one, whom I had never even talked to or met....called me a liar and basically a thief to another customer without even having all of his facts straight. Once again I had to use my skills of taking care of myself, standing up for myself and using words that these neanderthals understood.....mainly......"I am taking this to your boss!" Then one had the audacity to say to me in the same sentence that he was suppose to be apologizing in, that I just didn't understand how he was so taken advantage of by customers who were dishonest with him. I then told him in my nicest fake empathetic voice that I completely understood all about being taken advantage of.....after all I was both a woman and a widow. He got my point. So did his boss!

So what is today's point? It is, I don't like those who take advantage of anyone...especially widows! In case you weren't aware, a widow has already been through quite enough. She has lost her spouse.....must she also be out hard to come by cash for an unnecessary repair or an over priced item? Taking advantage of others for your own gain is pretty low by any standard not to mention what crappy karma you are causing yourself. However, when someone takes advantage of kids, the elderly or widows....then that is a special kind of sleezy that I am almost sure will gain them a special place in hell!

And this folks....ends my first To Like or Not to Like. Hope you have an amazing week!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you wrote about this. My mother is a widow too. It has been a year now and people just seem to know. She has had no end of phoney sales calls and she too has had repair people try to take advantage of my fathers absence. This blog was very good and I hope because of it someone might think before going after someone who is already hurting and who has been through enough.

Anonymous said...

This is inpiring to me. How many women are taught they cannot take care of themselves and need a man to be whole?. Lisa, you put the awe in awesome. You are amazing. I love how sincere and open you are in your blogs. So glad I found them. Thank you for putting into words how a lot of us feel.

Anonymous said...

This site is so wonderful. My husband died May 27,2015. We were married for 37 years. I took care of him by myself for the four years. I had to sell our home to to Texas to be with our sons, move to their home and move again to a home we purchase in Sherman, Texas.All of this is 6 months only. Amazing how many times I have been cheated, scamed, and lied to.We have a pretty piece of land and I was only here for three weeks, and made a stupid mistake by letting a "MAN" use my land for his cows in order to keep the AG exemptiuon,in exchange of maintance of my land,Now he wants to increase the cows, be here next winter and have let his cows have their babies on my land. Due to my health,I will pay the extra taxes, and enjoy my home. To hell with his wants, what about me??? Thank you,Sandra A