did you hear the one about the excavator?

by humanmama on August 1, 2011

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

When Helena was about 15 months old, in the fall of 2007, I saw in the Penny Saver (*Pittsburgh’s ad-paper, like a printed craigslist) an ad for a kids’ pedal-powered excavator. Carpenter is in construction and so Helena, by 15 months, had already been given more toy tools than you could count–drills, hammers, workbenches–you name it. When I saw the excavator, I pictured it driving around our big yard being filled with acorns and sand and worms and all sorts of grody, fun stuff that kids love.

I called the woman selling it, and we made an appointment to come see the excavator. When I arrived there with Helena, the very first thing she said to us was: “Is Big Brother in school?”

Hmm. Well, since I was pretty sure she wasn’t referring to 1984 I said “Oh, no, I just have one!” and firmly took Helena by the hand to lead her down the driveway to the toy.

It was perfect. WAY too big, but in great shape and just the thing for a family of a Carpenter. Helena immediately climbed up on it and began working the levers, even at 15 months that girl was a climber. The lady seemed very unnerved. “You don’t have any boy children?” she said to me. “Not yet,” I replied, talking up the fact that Carpenter used this kind of equipment all the time and we were definitely a rough-and-tumble family. Then I went to get the money out of my car.

She wanted $25, and as I always do, I said “would you take $20?” No, no, she said, “this is too valuable.” Then she went inside to talk to her husband, and then she came out with a “hate to break it to you” look on her face.

“Listen,” she said, “I just can’t sell this to you knowing it’s just going to sit around going unused. She’s just a little girl and this isn’t the kind of toy for girls.”

I was floored. I said “are you saying you’re not going to sell this to us because she’s a girl?” She said “I just couldn’t in good conscience sell this to you knowing there are boys out there that would want it.”

Helena and I left. I thought of many revenge strategies but used none of them. I was sad that those kind of “girl toys” and “boy toys” thoughts still exist, and sadder still that that horrid woman wouldn’t sell me something she was just trying to get rid of. Also, worse of all, sad that Helena had her first exposure to injustice, and gender-roles, and “what good little girls do.” We did not fit that stereotype, but I was not sad that we didn’t. I was just sad that it was still out there in the world.

I let it go.

Until last month. Carpenter was dropping some of our old unuseful stuff at Goodwill, and when he was in the parking lot someone else was dropping stuff off too. They talked, and Ben came home with their stuff.

When he told me he brought something home, I said “NOOOO! We are trying to get rid of stuff!” But when I saw it I was in shock. It was the exact same excavator that that woman wouldn’t sell to me.

Who knows if it’s the same one. It doesn’t really matter. What goes around comes around, baby. And I got mine. :)

The famous Excavator

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria August 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I am SO ANGRY about this! I am huffing and puffing and plotting revenge for you, even though you have already graciously let that wicked woman go. Kudos to you.

But if you would be willing to let me get revenge on your behalf, just send me her address. I have the perfect mechanism, as I learned it directly from the master, who administered it on my family several years ago. Lanky was the genius behind this technique, which should be enough said for its effectiveness.


aj August 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Awesome…looking forward to THAT story…!


Kathie August 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

i can’t stop shaking my head….how did you not knee her in the privates and say get a life woman!! so happy you won in the end!


Dana August 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Unbelievable! I’ve never heard that story — LOVE that Helena got the excavator and you got quiet revenge!


MommieBonnie August 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

I remember this too well! You totally made my day. God does reward those who wait!


Amanda August 2, 2011 at 10:11 am

Oh my god, what a freak! I’m so mad!

But, horray that she got her truck in the end!


aj August 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm



Jessica August 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I cannot believe that lady! What an awesome excavator!! So glad that your girls get to have it. Too bad you probably don’t remember where that person lived. I’d love to stick that picture in an envelope and tape it to her door.


Christine August 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I remember that excavator story, and I am THRILLED that Ben got to bring it home finally…….ha ha. That is soo super cool!!!!!!!


Holly August 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm

This woman needs to go back to 1951 where she belongs. Someone needs to inform her that women worked too hard to have the right to work on construction sites, managerial business positions and plenty of others roles that were considered a ‘man’s world’. I hope Helena becomes her sons boss one day.


aj August 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

AWESOME. Me too. Actually I hope she goes into computers and is a huge nerd.


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