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It’s a (Big) Man’s World

People often say it’s a man’s world. More than that, I submit, it’s a world built for big men.

My hubby is 6’2”, about average for North America. The world fits him perfectly.

I’m a foot shorter, and nothing fits me.

It would be funny if it weren’t so aggravating.

If I adjust my office chair so the desk is a comfortable working height, my feet dangle. If I adjust it so my feet are flat on the floor, I have to hunch up my shoulders to write or type, and scrunch my neck to look up at my monitor. There is no such thing as an ergonomic arrangement for me.

It’s the same story in the kitchen; counters are not a comfortable height for working. I’ve had to deal with this all my life, so I’m used to it. And it makes a good excuse for not cooking. I can reach the bottom shelf and the very front of the second shelf of my upper cabinets. And at that, I have to stand on tiptoe for the second shelf. Anything above that is completely out of reach without a ladder. If my hubby wants to hide something, all he has to do is put it on the third shelf. God only knows what’s in the cabinets above the fridge.

My car doesn’t fit me either. When I move the seat far enough forward to reach the pedals, the steering wheel hits my chest. God help me if the air bag ever goes off. It will probably kill me, either by concussion or by breaking my glasses and driving the shards into my brain. The seat belt strangles me. Even at its lowest position, it cuts across my neck, not my chest. In the event of an accident, if the air bag doesn’t break my neck, the seat belt will decapitate me. I drive verrrrry carefully.

The car fits hubby fine, though. When I get into the driver’s seat after he’s been driving, it’s like sitting on the floor — in the back seat. The hood is roughly at eye level. No hope of seeing the road. It takes several minutes to get the seat, mirrors and seat belt positioned properly so I can drive.

Years ago I had a Toyota Tercel, followed by a Rav4. They fit me perfectly. When my husband drove them, his head brushed the ceiling and no matter how far back he put the seat, his knees knocked the steering wheel, if not his chin. He hated those vehicles. I loved them. The newer ones no longer fit me. You guessed it; they now fit big men.

Size bias shows up in odd places, such as binoculars. They’re useless to me. I can’t get the barrels close enough to each other to see through both eyepieces at once. I have a small face and narrow nose bridge. I encountered the same issue getting my first driver’s license. The machine they used to test your eyesight wasn’t adjustable and I could only see through one eyepiece.

In my younger days, when I was looking for a career, I really wanted to be a pilot. To qualify, I had to pass certain physical requirements. If I remember correctly (it was many decades ago), they included 20/20 eyesight without glasses, height minimum 5’10”, weight 180 lbs. I offered to gain weight and wear high heels, but the only qualification they would budge on was the eyesight. They advised I could wear contact lenses instead of my glasses, but high heels wouldn’t satisfy the height requirement. It’s probably just as well. I don’t think I could drive in them, let alone fly. I can barely walk in them.

Though six feet plus is average for men, many are taller or shorter. And there is a whole range of heights for women as well. I am by no means unusual in being short. So why is big the default size? And why do we seem to have species selection for big men and small women? That will be a topic for another day.

I wish my smallness extended to my feet. They are a generous size. It’s almost like God, working top-down, almost finished and then said, “Oops. Better make her a bit bigger.” Too bad he didn’t go back and renovate what he’d already finished.

I’d like to take comfort in the old saying “Good things come in small packages.” Unfortunately, so do bad things, like drugs and viruses. Not so much comfort after all.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I’m going shopping for some stilts. I need to investigate those cupboards above the fridge.

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