Friday, June 06, 2008

The gender politics of insertion

I was down in a basement, trying to get a fall on a bath waste. What you need there, said BJ the plumbing assessor, is an emanef into the soil stack.

A *what*? I said.

He described it in a bit more detail. Oh, right, I said. I'd call that a street elbow.

[A normal elbow is a 90 degree bend that takes pipe at both ends. A street elbow takes pipe at one end and a fitting at the other. They are very useful for getting round tight corners. Here, we had an elbow onto a bit of pipe pointing downwards into a cut off soil stack. A street elbow would mean the pipe could go in right up to the bend, saving a very important 20mm or so.]

It's a street elbow in copper, he said. If it's waste, it's an emanef.

I eventually worked out that it's called an 'M and F', because it is female (receiving) at one end and male (inserting) at the other. I *hate* asking for male and female things in the plumbers merchants. T, I said to the customer, you don't fancy popping down Travis Bickle* for a 40mm solvent weld M and F do you?

T is the absolute best kind of customer - easy going, involved, on-hand with his (considerable) brute force where required, and willing to go to Travis Bickle and ask for things with embarrassing names.

All good. But I wonder if we will ever have a world where you can screw (or in this case glue) one thing into another without one of them being male and the other female. I know it's an obvious thing to call them. I know that the tiny flicker that crosses the guy's face when you ask for them, which means he's just had the same thought you've had, shouldn't really, in the big scheme of things, matter. But, you know, it does.


*Travis Perkins. But M has always called it Travis Bickle, and then we found out the Finnfans do too, and that's now what it's called.

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Blogger bedshaped said...

You could try refering to them as 'innie' and 'outie'. I've used that a few times in Plumber's Merchants and it's never raised any eyebrows. Although they may be having a good laugh about it when I leave though.

4:24 pm  
Blogger tomato said...

I've just had the same irritation with naming computer leads and ports...and yes, it does grate.

5:46 pm  

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