Now the water line to my house had been lain about 50 years earlier and left undisturbed all that time. The shut-off valve was buried under our lawn, and I had no idea where it was. Fortunately, the water company gave the worker a map of our property, drawn when the lines were first laid, plus a metal detector. The valve, according to the map, was 20 feet from the southwest corner of the house.
The worker measured it out and turned on the metal detector. No luck.
He searched fruitlessly for a couple of minutes when a thought struck me. Sometime after the house was built, rooms had been added to the southwest side along with a covered porch in front. The footprint of the house had changed from the footprint the water company had on file. I could easily point out where the original southwest corner lay, so I approached the worker to tell him.
He was having none of it. He consulted with his driver, with the plumber (whom I had hired for the plumbing repairs), the plumber's assistant, but steadfastly ignored every attempt I made to talk to him. He scratched his head, insisted it was hopeless, there was no way to find the shut-off valve, and was about to leave.
It finally dawned on me. Of the five people trying to locate the valve, I was the only woman.
So I approached my plumber. "Listen. The footprint of the house has changed from the map he's using. He needs to measure from that corner there, not the one he started with."
The plumber immediately understood. He repeated what I had said almost word-for-word, and within thirty seconds, they located the shut-off valve. The worker never once acknowledged me. He spoke only to the plumber.
The plumber's assistant shook his head, giving me an apologetic look.
The plumber, on the other hand, seemed pleased. Now he might simply have been pleased with the ultimate outcome -- he could finally finish his job. But I couldn't tell. They weren't talking to me.
The finished plumbing work was competent. Better than competent, even. But I hired someone else for my next plumbing job. And after the assistant opened his own business, I've hired him. Each time.