Beth Pugh believes the heart of a man is the manliest muscle of all.
I spend my forty hour work week in an office hidden in a garage. Within my four walls, it is fairly quiet, aside from the music I play and the noise the keys make while I type. It is decently organized with pictures of me and my family scattered here and there. It is the calm. The garage is the chaos.
When I step out of my office, the atmosphere changes drastically. The air smells of oil and cigarette smoke. The quiet dissipates. It is shattered by the noise of drills, the backup horn of the forklift and the occasional blowtorch. Eighteen wheelers sit disassembled in nearly every bay with a man underneath a chassis or perched on top of an engine to get to where he needs to be. I have spent over five years of my life watching them work. I have stood beside them while they scrub fervently to loosen the oil and grim from their hard working hands. I have seen them lift turbochargers effortlessly no matter how tired they are. I have seen them strain to loosen the too-tightened bolts that refuse to let go. Every single one of the men that come to the garage to put in their day’s work has become my family.
I have seen them do good work, hard work, work they can be proud of. Their work, however, is the least of the things they do that make them men. Here are five things they do, without realizing it, that show their masculinity:
When I started work at the dealership, I was the only girl at the office and I’m a talker. So whether the guys like it or not, they talked to me because I talked to them. They had to get to know me and in turn, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them. Whether it’s sharing stories of their childhood or stories of their firstborn, nothing exhibits manliness more than when they’re sincere.
One of the mechanic’s daughters was getting ready to turn sixteen. He talked to me nearly every day leading up to the party. He put so much time and effort into the planning. He even had me make him a special CD with songs about daddies and daughters. He sincerely wanted to make his little girl’s birthday to be the best it could, and he did everything possible to ensure it.
Sadly, more times than not, men are painted in a selfish light by the media. From movies to television to books, men come off as self-oriented. I have found this to be completely untrue. The men I work with are always willing to help me, be it opening doors when my hands are full, breaking into my car when I lock my keys up, or just asking me how I am when I look like I’m having a bad day.
Before my son was born, my husband and I were scrambling to get the house ready. Sheet rock needed to be hung and floors needed to be replaced. We had very little help. One of the mechanics came into the office and I was telling him about the problems we were facing. Without a second thought, he offered his services. He told me if we hadn’t finished the work by next week, he’d come help. As fate would have it, my son made his grand appearance before the next week, so he didn’t get to make good on his offer. His willingness to help, though, is something I will never forget. When a man sets himself aside to help others, he is showing the man he really is.
I know that we as women are sometimes offended by the thought that we need to be protected. However, when the men at work take the time to check my oil, the air in my tires, the antifreeze level and fix what they find wrong, it’s their way of protecting me and my son, who rides in a car seat.
When I was pregnant, the guys worried about me. None of them would let me lift anything, even if it was just five pounds. When I went to the warehouse to work, my service manager insisted I sit rather than stand and constantly asked me if I was getting too hot. When my air conditioner wasn’t working right, one of the mechanics got it running for me again because it wasn’t good for me to be without it when I had to drive nearly an hour to my doctor appointments. They all protected me and my unborn child. No one can argue that when a man protects a child they become the manliest man they can be.
You can’t go through the Christmas season without seeing at least one commercial with a man shopping last minute. Men are victims to society in the sense that they are depicted as thoughtless, especially when it comes to gift giving. This is far from true.
Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to help a few of the mechanics with Valentine’s Day presents for their wives and girlfriends. I had stumbled upon a great craft where a black and white photo was transferred onto a block of wood. The guys brought their materials and I helped coach them in what to do for their project. To see the men I work with put thought into what photo to use, the type of wood to transfer it onto (because it had to be good quality), and then take their own lunch times to put together a thoughtful gift for their significant others was beautiful to see. It made them manlier, at least in my opinion. I’d bet their wives and girlfriends agree with me, too.
When I first started working at the dealership, the mechanics tried very hard not to use vulgar language in front of me. If they slipped, they apologized. They all knew the type of person I was and that I hated cursing, so they held their tongues around me. This proved to me they had the utmost respect for who I am as a person.
For a while, I kept hearing “bell” being said when I walked out into the shop. It was weird, but I ignored it. Finally, one of the guys explained it to me. I was told I needed to wear a bell around my neck so they’d know I was coming and know to keep their language clean. Since I didn’t wear said bell, they said “bell” so everyone knew I was coming and to keep it “G-Rated.” Their restraint and respect showed me their strength more than anything else they’ve ever done.
Masculinity is more than muscle, unless you’re referring to the heart muscle, which truly shows how “manly” a man really is.
Photo credit: Flickr/MattysFlicks