Man Versus Machine

by Susan Corpany

I love the business card I got from the handyman. It states: “I can do anything your husband can do, but I will do it now.”

Most women dream of having a cleaning woman. I would love to be lulled to sleep for my afternoon nap to the sound of someone else vacuuming my floors. I’ve never yet met a woman who looks at these domestic tasks as a measure of her femininity. Yet for men, it would seem that being able to do household repairs is a measure of their manhood. If someone can out-clean me, do the laundry better or the cooking, I say “Have at it!”

For men, it is all an extension of a theme:

“Man versus machine.”

“Man versus dryer vent.”

“Man versus clogged pipes.”

“Man versus leaky roof.”

Make no mistake. The failure to immediately call in an expert to do the job right is not an economic decision in an effort to save money. My husband will even admit that he knows we are going to have to call a professional to come do the job right after he has made an attempt at it, likely costing us more money than it would have cost to call the plumber, roofer/mechanic first. But husbands are driven by testosterone poisoning to take a stab at it first.

Perhaps that is why there is so much procrastination when a home repair item shows up on the “to-do” list. It is a personal challenge to their manhood, and they simply have to try, all the while perhaps haunted by a foreknowledge of their impending failure, and the fact that they will be seen as less than manly. So instead they sit down in front of the television and grab the remote, drowning out the sound of the nagging.

The best way around this is to find a defendable reason to call the professional first. “I called the plumber, honey, because I read a report online that said that 37% of home fires are caused by clogged dryer vents and I didn’t want to take a chance.”

Another way around it is to lavish heaps of praise on them for ordinary problem solving and minor fixes to dilute their need to prove themselves with the big projects. I show my husband enormous amounts of awe and admiration just for being able to tell the mechanic what part of the car is making the funny noise.

“Control-Alt-Delete? Wow! Move over Bill Gates!”

“Three weeks, and look, that picture is still on the wall!”

“WD40? That’s all it took?”

Build his ego so that he doesn’t need to prove his manhood via the home repair route.

And keep the handyman’s number on speed dial.

Susan lives and writes on the Big Island of Hawaii. She is the author of five novels, Brotherly Love, Unfinished Business, Push On, Are We There Yet? and Lucky Change.


  1. This is so funny and so true! My husband always tries to fix everything himself. He usually accomplishes what he sets out to do, but sometimes I wish we could just call repairman, actually a PLUMBER!

  2. Some men are weird. :D

    I have never felt the need to assert my manliness by attempting a task I'm incapable of before the professional is called in. If I can't do it, I'll call 'em in myself and put the kettle on. ;)



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