Electricity Is Like Water, Flowing In A Pipe, Regardless Of Gender

They say women have less resistance in their bodies than men.  No not the political sort, sillies.  The sort of resistance to slow down the electrical current.  The resistance of a given object depends primarily on two factors: What material it is made of, and its shape.  So really, if a persons body is holding a lot of water, which is conductive, you’d probably be less resistant than someone who is not.  And if you have a large body, you’d resist more than a smaller body. In reality, neither political resistance nor electrical resistance rely on a persons gender.

It was raining one day at work.  We all had our yellow company issued rain gear on.  Me and Joe are out in the 500KV yard measuring cable lengths.  Just moosing through the rain in our crappy company supplied rain gear.   I would walk one end of the cable out while he held the giant cable reel in by its axel with the forklift. I was getting a shock from the wet wooden reel every time I touched the wood with my wet gloved hand.  Yowch!

This is an example of induction. Electro-static induction, where a near by charged body can give a charge to a conductor.  Wood usually is a bad conductor, so I was very surprised by this.

I told Joe that this was happening, and he came out of the forklift to touch the reel and said he felt nothing. I touch it again, and, ouch.

Now, I have to wonder why this would happen.  He was bigger than me. More mass to resist. Maybe his mass alone offered him more resistance. Am I carrying more water? Water is conductive. It is true that I was soaking wet inside and out, being sweaty on the inside of my rain jacket as well as outside due to the rain, while Joe sat in the warm and dry forklift.  Now there’s another ponder to wander.

Speaking of water, do you know the sweet analogy relating the flow of water to the flow of electricity?

Voltage is like the “pressure” in a water pipe when the tap is turned OFF. – No water flows = “no electricity”.  (you can “feel” the pressure if you stick your thumb over the end of the tap and turn it on. … it tries to push your thumb away, BUT, if you press HARD enough , no water comes out = that’s you  “resisting” the flow of water, which is the same as a “high resistance” in electrical terms, stopping an electric “current” from flowing).  IF the tap is turned OFF, we have LOTS of pressure (voltage) but NO water flow in the pipe (feeding the tap).  When you turn the tap on, the water starts to flow in the pipe. this is the “same” as electrical “current” flowing in a wire, or through a “body”.

Joe and I finish up our work day just in time for Rick to come by the tell us we’re doing it all wrong.  He stood there for ten minutes making fun of us, watching us clean everything up and put the reels away, storing and labeling the pieces we cut.  Just watching us work.  We humored him, but I think our secret eye contact agreed he was being a douche bag.

My pal Kennedy is a plumber, dealing also with water flowing and the man/woman jobsite dynamic. She is a trades woman with a background in education, and has gone from working with mostly children and women to working with mostly men who are still children.  She recommended to me the book : ‘You Just Don’t Understand’  Women And Men In Conversation, by Deborah Tannen PH.D.  I think its meant to help men and women understand that they communicate in different ways and is written like a guidebook to decoding gender languages and customs.  Kennedy explains things to me so I don’t have to read the book.

‘Its the conflict thing’

she says.

‘In the book, she says that most women view conflict as a threat to connection and avoid direct confrontation.  But to many men, conflict is necessary to negotiate status, so is accepted and may even be sought out, embraced and enjoyed.’

Today after work I needed someone to talk to to diffuse form the end of the day. When I get home I call Kennedy.

‘Kennedy, why are douch bags alive? Why do they have to be so difficult to work with?’

‘They are alive to give us new material! If we don’t have their assholery to comment on then we’d comment on each others.  Whats the hardest part for you to work with the douches?’

‘The hardest is when they are the boss.  There’s just so much douchery. My foreman called people chinks the other day. And he bragged about how he got the only Asian we worked with transfered to another site so he wouldn’t have to work with him.’

‘Shit. Fuck. Whoa. It’s so disapointing when people in positions of power abuse and misuse their privilege’s.  Its gross.  Especially because its de-humanizing. And sad, and horrifying. And when they ask you, are you getting expensive on us with your raise? Might have to transfer you that way. Its a threat. To you. That makes me so mad.  That abuse.  Like we have to compromise our humanity for our careers. The fact that we are hungry to work in a trade. To get decent wages, to have agency and develope our hands with skills to create- but to get that we are giving up solidarity with our co-workers. Yuck.’

‘I feel defeated Ken.  I’m gonna defeatedly just give up and be silent and troupe through it. I will never give up to let them win, too stubborn.  But I feel like giving up challenging them on their bullshit.  Its either that or I’ll loose my shit one day on everyone.  Have a mental breakdown and follow through with punching someone in the head that lets out their ugly side again.  Tell me how your times are going ken?’

‘We need to figure out a small manageable action to give you some victory. My journeyman kept on telling me really obvious, demeaning shit like…. while I was in the middle of packing up the tools he would say PACK UP THE TOOLS, QUICK QUICK.  While I was already doing it.  Or  CLEAN THIS UP, when I was already doing it, and had done it a million times that day already.  It was driving me batty. As if I was an incompetent imbecile.  So my goal the next week was to speak up, to be brave and use my voice, remembering the Audre Lorde quote: speak up, remembering we were never meant to survive.  So in a chill ride after some jokes I brought it up.  I picked my small goal of telling him that it is important to me to learn from him the trade, cuz he has a lot to share and that as a person who has a lot of life experience I didn’t need him to tell me to clean up 20 X ‘s a day.  Talking- speaking up- picking the goal and taking the risk of one small action gave me the energy the rest of the week.’

‘Fuck yeah, that’s a good one. Nice job! Gotta just pick your battle right. My current job tactic is to avoid talking to them most of the time.  I used to try for friendly conversation, but now I just try for shutting them out.  We talk work and that is all.  The strict minimum.’

‘Sounds like a strategy. ‘

She turns her head slightly glaring at me.

‘Or you can look at them, shake your head in disdain ,and whisper …..shit heads.’

‘Haha! I should really try that one some day’.

We get each other. I love my friends. They have a way to brighten up the day when it was all dreary before. My gender queer, hairy, tattooed, femmy, beautiful friends in full blown glory. These are the moments when we feel some belonging. not worried about our safety. Precious moments. We both have a silent sighing pause together.

‘Its been a long day’ she says. ‘They told me they thought i wasn’t strong enough today. that I should just quit.’

I told her she was a gem and is stronger than they could imagine being.  She is an apprentice plumber. She aced her classes. She also aced her classes as an HVAC technician. All her interviews saw a woman and chose not to hire.

‘I know’ she says. ‘Thanks for believing in me. I just have to keep trying.’

Don’t we all.  I proceed to tell her another story.

‘I got fall arrest training a few days ago with the company safety coordinator. I asked him  if he had any harnesses for women and he told me he had heard they existed but had never seen one.  No one had ever asked for one.  All the women who work for their company aren’t really women he said.’

For some reason I think this will be the funny story that makes her day seem less intense.

‘Brutal’  is all she says…

We agree it will one day be a womans’ world that we will help design.  One day.

(co-authored with Kennedy Arbor)


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