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© 2019 Rachel Melvin. All rights reserved.  

How Bitches Are Made® and HBAM® are trademarks owned by Rachel Melvin. 


Episode 5 "Breaking Ground and the Glass Ceiling"

Updated: Oct 17, 2019


- Breaking ground and the glass ceiling -

Since I first saw him on television back in 2006, I’d had a crush on Vaughn Viaro. When I got to work with him a few years ago, my crush turned into something far more real and serious. But, in a classic case of right place wrong time, multiple times, things remained only ever friendly between us. Which, is why I’d decided that if I couldn’t marry the man I wanted, I’d make it my New Year’s resolution to become the man I wanted to marry, instead.

When my birthday rolled around in February I chose to spend it in the High Desert of California with a few close friends. As a way to occupy ourselves during the last leg of the drive, I asked my friend Lillian, sitting shotgun, to look into some real estate in the area. I’d been aching for my own home, and not just because my ex and I had been living as such for nearly two years in a Mid-City apartment without air, or because I was sick of having to endure another insulting conversation with my landlord, implying I didn’t know how to operate a garbage disposal. It was mostly because I wanted to shake the feeling of unvalidated failure.

It’s a strange thing to endure mild success in my business while simultaneously feeling you have nothing to show for it, in terms of hitting the traditional milestones in life anyway. In the wake of my peers’ engagement parties, bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers, I too wanted something personal to celebrate - and get gifts for. Though, aside from feeling like Carrie in “A women’s right to shoes”, what I wanted more than anything was an asset - a way to prove to myself I had accomplished something, and that I didn’t need to be married to do so. After all, if a bachelor could have it all on his own, why couldn’t I?

My mouth dropped when Lillian informed me of the pricing. It was as if no one told this part of the state how much houses were going for in the rest of California - let alone the rest of the country. Although, I realize now it was I who’d been unaware, living in the stupor of SoCal culture shock for too long.

I knew I needed to act fast if I wanted to make my dream a reality, and so, quicker than a lovestruck lesbian, I committed.

Four weeks later, I stood with my relator in a single family dwelling I could officially call my own and immediately began treating my life like an episode of fixer upper.

My place was going to serve as an artistic getaway, a spiritual retreat, a quick escape for all my friends looking to decompress during pilot season, and the perfect place to spend Holidays with my family. It was for that last reason in particular I opted to begin my renovations in the kitchen. Little did I know what a nightmare that would become.

While I had originally envisioned the La Cornue oven/range I first saw at a Williams Sonoma I decided to spend half the amount on a still ridiculously priced dual oven, six burner range by Thor. The first time I went to buy the oven, my credit card was flagged for fraud, and the order was never placed. The second time I tried to buy it, the wrong billing zip code was used and once again, the order was never placed. The third time I tried to buy it, the order was inexplicably cancelled and therefore, never placed. Now, I’ve been told the best way to avoid conflict and stave off struggle is to listen to the universe when it’s trying to tell you something. Unfortunately, my universe as an Aquarian is ruled by Uranus so, this often falls on deaf ears. Consequently, I persisted and by my fourth and final attempt the universe decided it was finally time to fuck me - hard.

Let’s quickly breeze through the facts you need to know in order to understand my frustration with this story…

Fact #1: A THOR oven is not considered a “major” appliance. Why this is important is because while I bought the oven through HomeDepot, it’s actually sold through a third party. Ergo it’s also delivered by a third party carrier who is only required to “leave it by my front door,” as opposed to bringing it inside and installing it.

Fact #2: The unit weighs six hundred pounds, arrives in a wooden crate like the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, and is delivered by a single man with a semi truck lift and a crank dolly. I’m a single lady with a two wheeler who weighs approximately 1/6th of the unit. So, I pepper on a little flirt and convince my delivery man* to help bring it inside. After he leaves and my attempts to open the crate by myself with a crow bar fail, I curse my genes, pack up my pride, and resign to the fact I’ll have to recruit my nearest muscle for help.

Fact #3: As I’m sure you know, ovens are either electric or gas. And in some really fun instances, like mine, they need to be converted to liquid propane. According to David, my home depot associate, the Home Depot repair hotline can provide the conversion kit and perform the conversion for me. All I need to do is call the number on the card he gives me at the time of purchase… the first time.

Fact #4: The Home Depot repair hotline informs me David is ill advised. They do not sell the parts I need nor do they offer conversions. I’m then instructed to call either an appliance company or a licensed plumber instead.

Fact #5: None of the local appliance companies will touch what’s not considered a major appliance. Nor are they willing to touch a unit that large, unlike me who tends to seek out the largest unit possible. They defer me to a plumber.

Fact #6: No plumbers will perform a conversion either. It’s not worth their time, especially on a unit that large. Once again, the complete opposite philosophy of my own.

Fact #7: Appliances cannot be returned to Home Depot once removed from their original packaging. So, I suffer a minor breakdown and call my father for help.

Fact #8: My dad convinces a plumber to come out*, pending, of course, I provide the conversion parts and pay him under the table. I’m desperate, scared, alone, and backed into a corner, so of course, I agree. It takes him two days and cost me an additional 680 dollars.

Fact #9: Two days after the plumber sets up my range, the ignitor on the main oven breaks.

Fact #10: With the product under warranty, I call the manufacturer for assistance. Apparently, I live outside of the service area and finding a technician who’ll agree to come to my desert island, is next to impossible. It takes them two weeks to find someone.

Fact #11: The day before this technician arrives, a burner nearly explodes into flame, practically singeing my arm hair. Once he fixes the ignitor, I inform him of this problem and he looks into the situation, ultimately telling me the wiring underneath the burner has melted and that he will need to make another trip out to repair it.

Fact #12: Two weeks and four phone calls later, I still have not heard back from either him or the manufacturer. By this point, another burner explodes and I start to suspect that soon enough, so will I.

Fact #13: No one will or can service a Thor oven, not even Thor themselves and I suspect neither Thor himself. I call home depot and insist they allow me to return the defective product despite the fact it’s no longer in it’s leg lamp crate. They agree and I’m instructed a different third party carrier will contact me in 2-3 business days to pick it up.

I sat there, proud of my efforts and thinking the worst was behind me, little did I know the universe was just getting started.

3 business and 2 courtesy days later… crickets. I reached out to Home Depot for what would be the first of 20 times.

Sharon: Thank you for calling the home depot my name is Sharon, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?

Rachel: (chipper) Hi, Sharon, my name is Rachel.

Sharon: Hi, Miss Rachel. How can I help you today?

Rachel: I’m trying to return an oven that’s defective and the carrier that’s supposed to come get it still hasn’t contacted me with a pick up date.

Sharon: I’m so sorry about that. Let’s try and find out what’s going on. Can I have the order number?

Rachel: Sure, it’s WA573849586

Sharon: Okay… is this for the Thor 48” range?

Rachel: Yes.

Sharon: My apologies that no one from Non Stop has contacted you yet Rachel, may I place you on a brief hold while I try to contact them to see what’s going on?

Rachel: Sure.

Automation: What’s better than saving money? Saving time.

45 minutes later Sharon returned to the line.

Sharon: I’m sorry Rachel. The carrier is a little backed up with the Memorial Day holiday but they are aware you’re waiting for their call. Go ahead and give them another 2-3 business days to reach out. And, if you want, you can always return the unit to any of our Home Depot stores, which I might consider because I see here you only have fourteen more days before your return window expires.

Rachel: Yeah, I would if I could it’s just, I have a mustang the oven weighs almost as much as it.

Sharon: I see. Then, just go ahead and wait for our carrier to reach out. If you don’t hear from them in another 2-3 business, go ahead and give us a call back.

Three days later, the crickets were back.

Tracy: Thank you for calling the home depot my name is Tracy, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?

Rachel: Hi Tracy, my name is Rachel.

Tracy: Hi, Miss Rachel. How can I help you today?

Rachel: I’m trying to return an oven that’s defective and the carrier that’s supposed to come get it still hasn’t contacted me with a pick up date.

Tracy: I’m so sorry about that. Can I have the order number?

Rachel: Sure, it’s WA573849586

Tracy: Okay, and may I place you on a brief hold while I try to contact the carrier to see what’s going on?

Rachel: Sure.

Automation: What’s better than saving money? Saving time.

And just like that, I found myself in the hell of my own personal Groundhog Day. Every 2-3 days I’d generate the same transcript until it became clear Home Depot was trying to run out the clock like a winning basketball team. I knew it would continue until I could no longer get my money back, and with Memorial Day sales threatening to also expire before I had room in my house to order a replacement, I became so heated, meals could have been cooked in me.

I decided to turn up the heat, officially leaving the door mat stage of the bitch cycle.

Jeremy: Thank you for calling the home depot my name is Jeremy, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?

Rachel: My name is Rachel, my order number is WA573849586, the billing zip code is (beep) and I like to speak with a supervisor.

Jeremy: Oh wow, is this for the 48” oven range by Thor. What a beautiful piece of equipment.

Rachel: It would be if it worked.

Jeremy: I do see you have a return in process. Let me go ahead and transfer you to my supervisor. Is it okay if I put you on a brief hold?

Rachel: (through gritted teeth) Fine.

Automation: What’s better than saving money? Saving time -

The supervisor came on the line twenty minutes later, assuring me he’d personally see to it I had a pick up date schedule within the next twenty-fours. I’m not sure why I believed him when he said he’d follow up with me himself the next day. He never did.

By the end of tomorrow, I was officially tired of eating the endless bullshit everyone had spoon feed me.

Donna: Thank you for calling the home depot my name is Donna, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?

Rachel: Rachel, my order number is WA573849586, the billing zip code is (beep) I’d like to speak with a supervisor and yes you can put me on hold.

Automation: What’s better than saving money? Saving time -

45 minutes later, I was dealing with a supervisor named Tom…

Tom: I understand you’re frustrated.

Rachel: I don’t think you do Tom! I’ve been dealing with this piece of shit for the last four months. Four months! I haven’t been able to cook in my house. I’ve lost money in groceries and having to eat out, I’ve spent hours on the phone with you people every single day for the last two and a half weeks when I should have been working. And now, I can’t even take advantage of the Memorial Day sale because you guys are taking advantage of me!

Tom: What can I do to make you happy?

Rachel: I want 500 dollars off a new oven and a 500 gift card for my trouble. I need to be compensate for all the time and energy I’ve wasted with you guys. I just want this thing out of my house and out of my life.

2-3 business days later, I at least had 1000 worth of gift cards in my email.

To avoid making an already lengthy story even longer, I’ll simply tell you that in the end, I demanded another three hundred dollar gift card from Home Depot to cover the cost of the moving company I ultimately had to hire to return the oven to a store. And, in what I’m sure was an effort to never hear from me again, especially after I’d accused them of holding my money hostage, they released my funds and sent an additional e-card of 350 dollars along with it. Finally, it was over. The four month saga had concluded.

I was proud of myself. I had articulated what I wanted, asked for what I felt I deserved, stuck to my guns, and got it! It was immediate and victorious proof of How Bitches Are Made. Although, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still bother me I had to get stern with anyone in order to get things accomplished in the first place. At least for now though, I’d reached the point in my life where I knew how to handle things without feeling ashamed or having to apologize for it afterward.

With my lesson learned, I called an appliance company to confirm they’d install the new oven I was looking to buy. Then, I used my gift cards to purchase it, even having enough left over for some light fixtures, a faucet, and the actual kitchen sink. It was the hardest I’d ever had to mentally and emotionally work for my money, which is saying a lot since that’s literally how I’ve made a career for myself. Though it felt great to win the battle, my war was still far from over. But don’t worry, this is the final act and I’ll keep the next section shorter.

All you really need to know is that there was another delayed delivery, another failed install, and another six hours lost before I once again found myself back inside the hell that is the Home Depot phone loop.

And speaking of loops, by now I was ready to tie one with the end of the rope I found myself at. I hadn’t been able to leave my house all day for fear of missing another repair man and after this six hour saga, I was battling an intense level of hanger. After 30 minutes I forfeited and sent the technician home.

Almost as soon as he’d left, I grabbed my purse and threw myself into my own car. I was going to Home Depot. I wasn’t sure what I planned on doing once I got there, but I figured, maybe, once people saw my face, it might humanize the situation enough to generate a little compassion - and some results as well.

I stopped at a Steak and Shake for some sustenance on the way. As I sat there in the drive through line waiting for my food and still waiting on hold with Home Depot, my body began to shake, uncontrollably. I felt like I’d been beating my head against the wall for nearly four and a half months without reprieve. I’d been doing everything on my own. I’d tried every tactic; nice, patient, direct, stern, persistent. Nothing had seemed to work. Overwhelmed, exhausted, and out of options, there was only once thing left to do, whether I wanted to or not, and that was to start spitting shit back in everyone else’s face. And just like that, I snapped.

Automation: What’s better than saving money? Saving time.

Rachel: (screaming into the phone) I wish I could be saving time you mother f*ckers!

Automation: More saving, more doing.

Rachel: You don’t do sh*t a**hole!! Home depot?! More like home demo f*ckface!

Customer service rep: Hello ma’am? I was able to get Whirlpool on the line, do you have the serial number of the unit?

Rachel: Whirlpool?! It’s a KitchenAid! Why are we talking to Whirlpool?!

Customer service rep: (remaining calm) Ma’am, Whirlpool own KitchenAid. Do you have the serial number of the unit?

Rachel: Jesus. No. It’s back at my house, which I had to leave because you guys were taking so long and I needed to eat since I still don’t have an oven!

Customer service rep: Unfortunately ma’am, I can’t place a service call for you without that number. So, you’ll need to call back once you have it.

Rachel: Great! So now I get to sit on hold for another hour the next time I call?!

Customer service rep: Ma’am we need the serial number so yes, you will need to call back when you have it.

Rachel: You guys are useless.

Did that woman I hung up on think I was a bitch? Most likely. Did she know what I’d been through up to that point? No, and I was tired of explaining it. I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m not exactly proud of this part of the story. Which also explains why, outside of an attempt to exhaust the fire within itself, my body immediately began generating tears. Copious amounts. Nonetheless, I marched into the Home Depot, carrying the white steak and shake bag defiantly underneath my arm and occasionally stuffing a fry in between labored breaths.

There I stood, in the same spot I’d left my Thor range in a few days earlier. Between sobs and chewing bites of chicken, I pleaded for help at the customer service desk, from two managers who showed little to no emotion in the presence of my own. I gave them all the details from the storied four months leading up to this moment. And when I accidentally spit a piece of chicken across the counter at them as I spoke, they remained steadfastly stoic.

Rachel: I mean, how do you honestly not feel bad for me?

Male Store manager: We do. I just don’t know what to tell you.

Female store manager: I can call on your behalf but I can’t set up an appointment for you without that serial number. And quite frankly, I’m not even sure they’ll look at it once it’s been converted.

Rachel: It’s under warranty.

Store manager: But once you convert it it’s considered altered, which voids the warranty. Especially when it isn’t done by a licensed plumber.

Rachel: It comes with conversion parts! And plumber’s out here won’t perform a conversion! So, what am I supposed to do?

She shrugged.

Rachel: Well, how does everyone else in this town get their ovens?

Eavesdropping Customer: Google it.

It took everything in me not to strangle that eavesdropping customer.

Rachel: So, what? I’m just screwed then? (takes a deep breath and resigns) Who do I need to speak with about taking you guys to small claims?

Male store manager: I dunno but once you start talking about legal stuff, we have to walk away and end the conversation.

Rachel: Are you kidding me?

Male store manager: No. I’m sorry but we have to stop talking to you now.

Frustrated that I was once again, getting nowhere, I packed up my chicken fingers and walked away from the counter. I felt completely invisible, broken, and helpless - as heavy as my initial oven and even heavier than the entire problem itself as I walked towards the automatic doors and into the 100 degree heat which, felt even hotter thanks to my adrenaline.

As I wiped away beads of sweat and tears that had collected on my body, I couldn’t help but notice how red and flush my skin had become. It was a level of adulthood I’d never experienced and had no idea how to manage. After so many years of wishing and wanting to be older, I’d never wanted to be a child again so badly in my life. Then, remembering I still was to someone, I called home.

In less than three hours my dad was on a plane, and within twenty-four hours of a mere dick being present, everything was seamlessly and suddenly, handled. I don’t mean dick figuratively either. I mean my dad did nothing but stand with a penis between his legs, over my shoulder and the same things I’d been doing on my own were instantly effective.

Though I’d come so far in all of this I couldn’t help but realize the very daunting, very sad truth: while I may have succeeded in becoming the man I wanted to marry, I’m still and always will be, very much a woman.


- References -