Miss Fix-It excerpt
People think I’m a bimbo just because I have a pink hammer.
Okay, admittedly I can be a bit bimbo-esque. An un-natural blonde who loves pretty clothes, cosmetics and high heels, I paint miniature works of art on my nails, mix my alcohol with fruit juice and my favorite color is—you guessed it—pink. But beneath my flawlessly cared-for exterior beats the heart of a certified geek—Masters in Economics included. If only that made people take the pink hammer seriously, I’d advertise it on the side of my RAV4. Unfortunately, people rarely see my serious side.
My name is Veronica Castelletti, and I’m a handyperson. This unlikely profession for a self-confessed girly-girl came about as a result of sibling rivalry and a roomful of self-assembly furniture. After crushing my brother’s pride to dust, I realized how much fun I’d had—something that had been lacking in my high-powered, sophisticated job as an economist. So I chucked it in, and five years later am earning just as much fixing cabinets and redesigning kitchens as when I wore power suits and wielded a calculator. And nowadays, people don’t fall asleep when I talk about work.
So I wear overalls and boots to work, have a tool belt, and drive a 4WD. But just because everything has to be durable doesn’t mean I can’t be me. My mother agrees completely—she’s the one who commissioned my custom-made pink tools. And my work clothes all have some custom tailoring, partly to improve the fit (one-size-fits-all—what a joke) but also to individualize and add class. I’m a whizz with a sewing machine, so it’s easy to swap out those ugly snaps for funky buttons, add a cool belt and replace the sleeves. But anyway, as usual I’ve digressed.
Back to the point—people rarely take me seriously. Let’s use the Lech as an example—that’s not really his name, by the way, but if people were named for personality traits…anyway, I took a job for a nice-sounding lady who wanted to have her front gate re-hung.
I’d been working for about twenty minutes when she came out and told me she was going to see her mother. She gave me a check to cover the job, asked me to close the gate when I was done, and not to make too much noise, as her husband was making some “important business calls.”
She was gone less than a minute when the front door opened and hubby came wandering down the driveway. He was unimpressive—mid height, mid build, with a bit of a doughnut building around his middle.
“You’re the handyman?” he asked.
Considering what I was in the middle of doing, it was a pretty stupid question, but hey—the customer is always right.
“Yep. Veronica Castelletti.” I hefted the side of the gate I’d been working on back up onto its hinges.
“Do you need a hand with that?” He came up behind me as I took a step back to check the clearance, and I bumped into him.
“No, I’m…” I broke off on a gasp.
The scumbag squeezed my ass!
I’m not talking about a casual brush or even a slightly more prolonged grope. He actually put his hand on my left cheek and squeezed!
It happens to me a lot in my profession, but it never fails to piss me off—especially when the offender is married. Still, I consider myself a classy woman, so I moved out of his reach and swung the gate. Hard.
He cursed and jumped out of the way, except he wasn’t really very coordinated, and nearly ended up sprawled on the driveway. It was a joy to see.
“You little bit—”
I smiled innocently, tilting my head. “I’m sorry, did that nearly hit you? I was checking to see if there was clearance room.”
Despite my hope that he would leave after that, I was out of luck. He just gave me a very fake smile and assured me he was okay. Darn.
The other side of the gate came off its hinges easily, and I leaned it against the fence, turned around and nearly had a heart attack when I found him right there in front of me. Obviously, he slithered like a snake—I hadn’t heard him at all.
I was still recovering from my surprise when the lecherous bastard’s hand zeroed in on my breast.
I shrieked and leapt back, drawing myself up to my full five feet ten inches. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
I was prepared to spit on his bald spot, but my reaction—and possibly the screwdriver in my hand—convinced him to back off. He sputtered and retreated to the other side of the driveway.
“I was only trying to help!”
I started removing the old hinges from the gate.
“This is such a cute hobby for a woman.”
Gritting my teeth, I stabbed the screwdriver at the next screw, picturing his eyeballs.
“Even if you are stealing jobs from hardworking men just so you can get your kicks.”
In my mind, the screwdriver was now stabbing at other balls.
“How long should I expect the gate to last before I call a real repairman?”
Oh, now that was just mean.
“How long did it last until now?” My answer came from between clenched teeth, and for a long moment he was silent. The screws all came out of the hinge, but it was seriously warped and still jammed in the gate post, so I grabbed my hammer to loosen things up.
“Is that a pink hammer?”
He was coming closer, but I ignored him.
“Does that hammer even work?”
I pounded at the hinge and wished it were his head.
“What kind of professional uses a pink hammer?”
The hinge finally flew out of the post, and I bent to pick it up—only to feel a pudgy hand grab my ass.
I came up swinging. I wasn’t actually going to hit him—that would be wrong. It was just the only thing that came to mind to make him back off. And watching him gibber in terror as I threatened him with a pink hammer was really satisfying—that whole, I-am-male-thus-superior attitude always makes my blood boil, especially since he was so obviously incapable of doing his own handiwork.
“Police! Drop your weapon!”
Huh? I looked over my shoulder to see a cop coming toward us, the car behind him parked haphazardly at the curb. He was pointing his gun in my direction, and I looked around to see who he was talking to.
“Put down the weapon, lady!”
Lady? He was talking to me?
The lecherous bastard had already escaped out of my reach, so I dropped my hammer and turned to face the cop.
“Hands over your head!”
Was he for real? Still, my hands went up. He reached me and patted me down, which was actually kind of interesting, seeing that he was really hot and had this earnest expression. No trying to cop a feel, though.
“Officer, I’m so glad you’re here!” Lech’s smarmy voice drew my attention. He was actually wringing his hands, and had pasted a shocked and horrified look on his face.
“Sir, are you okay?” The officer asked him, pulling my hands behind my back and…were those handcuffs?
He handcuffed me.
“She attacked me!” Lech cried, drowning me out. He went on, blathering some crap that the cop ate up, while I moved my wrists in the handcuffs and stared at them both in amazement. I’m not opposed to handcuffs, per se, they can actually be fun when used between consenting adults.
I didn’t think that was what the cop had in mind.
Twenty minutes later officer hot-and-earnest led me into a little box of a room at the police station, took off the handcuffs, and told me to stay put. I’d never been to the police station before. In any other circumstances, it would have been pretty cool, but not while I was sitting there, without even a one-way window to occupy me while I waited to be questioned. Me, questioned by the police! My stomach flipped at the thought, and I took a deep, cleansing breath. It didn’t work, but that may have been because the air in the room was a bit stale.
They probably saved the good rooms for the real criminals.
That’s kind of offensive, really. Not that I want to be a criminal or anything, but since I was there, as a taxpayer I’d have liked to get the full arrest-and-interrogation package, including one-way glass and fingerprinting. The only things I did get were the handcuffs and the backseat of the police car.
My nerves had dissipated and I had worked up a full head of steam over my less-than-adequate accommodations when the door to my box opened and a plainclothes cop walked in. It was not, to my disappointment, officer hot-and-earnest. This guy was about ten years older and looked a thousand more times experienced. The what-a-waste-of-my-time look he gave me as he shut the door was meant to intimidate. From his frown, he wasn’t impressed that I gave him the same look back.
My best friend Anita is a first grade teacher and she told me once that the best way to get kids to confess to any wrong doings is to sit down with them in a quiet room and say nothing. Apparently it’s an old police interrogation trick—and thus perfect for use by the educators of our children. It’s also what this cop was doing now—sitting across the table, saying nothing. That irritated me—who likes being treated like a first-grader?
I knew that the smart thing for me to do would be either a) politely explain the situation or b) do exactly the same thing he was, but it had been a long day, and let’s face it, I am a taxpayer, so I went for c)—the offensive.
“I’ll have you know that I’m very upset about the treatment I’ve received since I arrived here.”
He blinked. “I was told that when you arrived you were shown directly into this room.” His response was calm, his tone bland.
I wondered how long it would take me to break him. “Exactly! The minute I got here I was put in this little dog box! I wasn’t fingerprinted, they didn’t give me my one phone call, and this room doesn’t have one-way glass!” I gave him the evil eye, the one my grandmother swears by. From the pained look on the cop’s face, I’d just given him indigestion.
He took a deep breath. “If you’d been arrested, we would certainly have fingerprinted you and given you your phone call. But you haven’t been arrested; you’ve been brought in for questioning regarding a suspicious incident.”
I crossed my arms and humphed.
“What about this crappy little room?” I demanded.
He gave me what I assumed was supposed to be a smile but was actually a twisted grimace. I could practically smell my victory.
“This was the only room available when you were brought in. I apologize if it doesn’t meet your standards.”
An apology just wasn’t good enough. I wanted blood. I drew myself up in my seat and prepared to deliver the finishing blow.
“I,” I began loftily, “am a taxpayer and a law-abiding citizen. If I visit a police station, I expect to be given a better room than that given to an actual criminal, even if that means that said criminal needs to be moved.”
While I was speaking, a red flush began to rise from his collar, and by the time I was finished his face was nearly purple, jaw clenched. Without a word, he stood and left the room, slamming the door behind him.