“OK, this shouldn’t be too difficult of a job,” I think to myself as I slither my body underneath the kitchen cabinet in my house. I decided it would be a good idea to swap out the garbage disposal and the leaky faucet we had since we moved into the house. Well, sure enough, just when you think a job isn’t going to be trouble, it usually turns out to be more than you expected, especially when it’s your own house.
Looking up at the nuts that held the kitchen faucet in place, I realize they are completely rusted. “Oh boy,” I mutter underneath my breath. I grab my basin wrench from the tool bucket at my feet and dive back inside the cabinet. I try to position my body so I can be somewhat “comfortable” underneath the sink with my ribs digging into the garbage can rail on the bottom of the cabinet.
I extend the basin wrench and get what seems to be a good bite on the nut. I go to turn the nut, but it won’t budge. I then receive a face full of debris, which came from the corrosion above. Ugh. I have no other choice but to get my screw gun and drill the nuts off the faucet. I slide out from underneath the cabinet and go out to the truck to retrieve my screw gun.
On the way back inside, I check in with my son, Mason, who is sitting on his gaming chair playing Fortnite.
“How’s the game going?” I ask.
“Pretty good,” he responds. “Did you finish the faucet yet?”
“Nope, not yet,” I chuckle.
I head back upstairs to the kitchen and back underneath the sink with my screw gun ready to destroy those nuts. And that’s exactly what I do. Not sure about you, but man, that’s a good feeling! Just as I finish drilling the last nut, I feel someone at my legs, which are hanging out from underneath the cabinet. “Hmm, it must be Mason,” I think to myself. “He probably heard me drilling and wanted to give me a hand.”
I pick up my head from the cabinet floor to see who it is. I can’t quite make out who it is with the droplight shining brightly into my eyes.
“Da-da, da-da, I wanna help,” the tiny voice says.
“Madison!” I say, surprised. “I thought it was Mason.”
Madison, my 3-year-old daughter, is leaning inside the cabinet, so excited to get in with me to help. I am so shocked to see her enthusiasm and interest in what I am doing. Before I know it, she is digging through my tool bucket, pulling out my tools and asking what each thing is.
“Wow, this is incredible,” I think. “I can’t believe she actually wants to help me.” So, of course, I let her dive right in with me and she is the perfect little helper. I ask her to give me certain tools while I am underneath the sink. She even gets underneath with me so I can show her what I’m working on.
It is truly a moment in my life I’ll never forget. My mind instantly thought my son, Mason, was going to be there when I glanced up from within the cabinet. I never thought my daughter, Madison, would be standing at my feet instead.
'Don’t let anyone stand in your way’
A few weeks after Madison helped me install the faucet, I started to wonder if there were many female plumbers. I know of women who work in our field, but I didn’t know of any who were turning wrenches and ripping out water heaters. So, I hopped on Instagram and began to search around. Well, I was shocked at how many women I found who were plumbers!
“This is fantastic!” I thought. I sent Instagram invites to a few and followed their everyday tasks out in the field. One, in particular, caught my attention with her bubbly personality and her love for her work. She goes by the name of “The Plumbing Princess.” I knew I had to reach out to her and find out a little bit more about her story.
Lindsay Stannard, aka The Plumbing Princess, is based out of Canada’s Vancouver Island. She first started to dive into the industry as an apprentice at the age of 19. Lindsay always wanted to work in a trade but just didn't know which one. Her grandfather was a pipefitter/steamfitter, her father was a refrigeration mechanic and her brother is currently a welder.
“They all definitely inspired me to start a trade,” she says. “I saw how independent they were and wanted that for myself.”
Lindsay headed to a job fair and discovered that plumbing was her trade. “Plumbing just seemed like the right fit for me because I could get two trades in one: a plumber and a gas fitter,” she explains.
I had asked her if she was treated differently in this male-dominated industry.
“Oh, of course, I’m treated differently,” she says. “I’m training a first-year apprentice right now and when we go to a customer’s house, they immediately direct all their questions to him. It can be a little frustrating at times. I’ve had to deal with sexual harassment at work, but that can happen in any type of job. I certainly don’t want it to discourage any females who are looking into a trade.”
Lindsay started off doing new home construction and learned a lot, which set a strong foundation for her career. But if Lindsay had to choose, she said service work is where her heart is because she gets to do so many different things all the time.
“I like having a different scope of work every day; it makes you a well-rounded plumber, in my opinion,” she states.
Before wrapping up my interview with Lindsay, I ask her what her message would be to other women who may want to consider this trade as a career.
“My message to any woman looking to get into the business is do it and don’t let anyone stand in your way,” she says. “It’s 2020 and women can be whatever they so desire. I chose a trade so I could be independent, and I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
I encourage everyone to give Lindsay a follow on her Instagram; her handle is plumbing.princess. She posts stories every day and has such wonderful charisma and an incredible work ethic. It was a pleasure talking with her and get an inside look from her perspective.
I would love to hear from other women in the industry and get to know their stories on how they began their journey turning those wrenches.
You never know, maybe one of these days my truck will read BMC Plumbing & Daughter.