When I walk into our local hardware store (Martin’s in downtown Charlottesville) I’m greeted in much the same way that I think Norm was greeted on “Cheers.” The guys all want to know the latest happenings at OESH. They don’t mind that I’m not only filthy from grease but also sweaty from finishing up my run there. I don’t think they even know what I used to look like when I was the well-dressed woman doctor / professor / department chair. In contrast, I do get a few double-take looks at the “in” coffee shop next door where I used to have meetings.
Every morning I pick out whatever there is in my closet that has the least amount of stains already on it. Because every day, I believe that I won’t get another stain. That I will be careful when I change the nozzle on the waterjet saw. That I won’t wipe the excess resin that drips from the filament winder onto my sleeve.
I should probably just wear overalls. I actually still have an old pair stowed away that I used to wear in medical school during anatomy dissection. But I feel like wearing overalls outside of a cadaver laboratory might be admitting that I’m a grease monkey. A friend with exceptional fashion sense thinks so too. In fact, she thinks that I should start wearing my wedding dress to work, because I’d be especially careful not to get any stains on that.
The thing is that I may already be a grease monkey. Not just because of the stains, but because of what I now know about operating big-time machinery. I’ve always respected grease monkeys. But I now find that they respect me, even though I’m not wearing overalls. (Would they still respect me if I wore my wedding dress?) They especially respect what I’ve built in the factory. So they know that I don’t mind a conversation about hydraulic pumps.
What they don’t know is that my only interest in hydraulic pumps is that that knowledge can help me make better shoes. I otherwise have very little interest in such gear-heady things. For example, I still don’t know how to open the hood of my car, because I’ve never wanted or needed to. But if learn or conjure up anything that could improve shoe-making, I admit, I’m more than likely to get another grease stain over it.
I guess some part of me, and my friend’s strong opinion, keeps me away from pulling out those overalls (which interestingly came out stain-free from its medical school days). I suppose I’ll just keep wearing what I’m wearing with the comfort that I have two different stain-free options in stowaway, at the ready.