*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my mother, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
My mother paid for the repairs in cash and sent him on his way.
It's not every day that a repairman asks a woman for a date in exchange for free home repairs, but that's exactly what happened to my mother in the early 1960s.
When my mother was a young newlywed, her husband put her in charge of hiring a repairman to do some work on their house.
My mother recently shared a story with me about how she felt guilty when the repairman she hired hit on her. She felt like it was her fault, as if she had done something wrong simply by being a woman home alone with a man who was there to fix a few things around the house.
According to my mother, the repairman began flirting with her and asking her out on dates while he did the repairs around my parents' home.
As the man worked on the repairs, he began asking questions about her. She answered his questions politely and then told him she would stop talking to let him focus on the work at hand. "I don't want to distract you," she said with a laugh. "Then you might charge me extra."
The man stopped working and looked at her. "Actually, I was going to ask you out on a date. I'll do the repairs for free if you say yes."
My mother was taken aback. She didn't know how to respond. My mother was polite, but she refused his advances. Finally, she said, "I'm sorry, but I don't think that would be a good idea. I'm married."
The repairman became angry and began yelling at my mother. He accused her of leading him on and said that she was the reason men like him were still single.
My mother felt guilty and apologized to the repairman. She offered to pay extra for the repairs just to get him out of the house sooner, but the man refused to take her money.
"I don't care if you're married," he replied. He became insistent. "Just say yes and we'll call it even."
In the end, he accepted the cash.
This is just one example of how some repairmen may try to take advantage of female homeowners. It's important to be aware of these situations and to always be cautious when dealing with strangers in your home.
My mother never again felt comfortable having repairmen in the house unless my father was home. Even when she was the one who contacted the repairmen and hired them for the job, she insisted upon having my father nearby.
That one unpleasant experience ate away at her confidence. She didn't feel safe and comfortable anymore because she was afraid if it happened again, the next man might be a lot more persistent than the last one.
To this day, she hasn't told my father what happened. The experience left her feeling guilty and ashamed, even though she did nothing wrong.