I stood outside the intimidating, grotty exterior. I gathered myself – “Deep breaths, Stephen”. I was about to enter a place of real men – a location for men to buy tools for manly activities. I crossed the threshold onto the unkempt, scratched wooden floor. I gazed at the many shelves, bent with the weight of gadgets and gizmos, whose purpose I knew nothing of. Shiny screws, nuts and bolts brimmed plastic buckets. The walls were littered with watering cans and other gardening equipment. The air was dry with dust, walked in from the boots of seasoned construction workers. Colourful advertisements covered the walls communicating product’s superiorities. Customers floated about the narrow space between shelves, pawing and examining wares. I felt privileged to be allowed enter this place. I felt a stirring in my person; a calling from a primitive part of me I do not indulge.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the broken piece of plastic from the toilet cistern of my apartment. A gentleman, who looked like something from “Little House on the Prairie”, approached me. I wondered why he wore no cowboy hat, a symbol of manliness. “Can I help you with anything?” he asked politely. “Yes,” I answered. I held the white piece of plastic in front of me, hoping it would puzzle him. I desired for him not know what this strange utensil was. I wanted to communicate its purpose. I prepared myself to explain that it was a connection from the toilet handle to the flusher inside the cistern. I wanted to demonstrate that I, too, might be welcome in this manly-man place. “Would you have one of these?” I asked condescendingly. I knew what it was, but did he? “Yes we do,” he replied to my disgust, “I will get one for you now”. He disappeared into a cavern filled with plumbers’ trinkets and treasures. “Two euro fifty please,” he asked. I paid him. “We were sick of lifting the toilet cistern. Girls especially don’t like doing it” I explained. He smiled meekly. A smile that was polite but yet suggested I should be on my way.