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Spring Gillard
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Repair Man

iron

My computer’s in the shop. It’s a refurbished IMac G5, the power supply is shot. Now they’re having trouble getting the part. Apparently this new-to-me model is considered vintage at six years old. Last year I brought home five different kettles before I settled on one. Two of them broke down within a week, the others were so poorly designed that the water ended up mostly on the counter instead of the tea pot.  When I tried to get my alarm clock fixed at the Sears watch repair store, they couldn’t get the parts either. Besides, the repair guy said, it would be cheaper just to replace it. In fact, that seems to be the mantra of product manufacturers these days. Planned obsolescence, a limited span of life, is built right into the design and the marketing plan.

There used to be repair shops around. I brought my coffee grinder into a little place downtown for tune-ups and sharpening. The repair man took such care, he had all these tiny brushes and sharpening tools. That little shop is long gone. I took a vintage VCR into a TV repair place in my neighbourhood once. Both the repair shop and the VCR are gone now. I replaced the VCR with a DVD/VCR a few years ago, and already people laugh when they see I still use a VCR. My ancient Sony Trinitron TV is still running perfectly, a hand-me-down from my brother, decades ago. It has so few plug ins that the cable guy had trouble hooking everything up. They don’t make them like that anymore. And apparently they don’t make repair men or women anymore.

I still have a blender and an iron that my parents got me in university. The blender is on its last legs, but it’s probably thirty-five years old! The iron cord has been retaped a few times. As has the cord on my very old Beaumark vacuum cleaner. The switch on my pre-historic but beloved Braun drip coffee maker went, I couldn’t get any one to fix it. And two toaster ovens in a row developed a short in the switch. You can’t get anyone to repair them. The repair shops are obsolete now too.  And we know where most of these small appliances and electronic items wind up.

At a Greenest City waste workshop recently, we were asked to gather at tables by neighbourhoods. One of the people at my table, said that we should be listing people and their particular skills as neighbourhood assets. He mentioned that we have a renowned green roof guy living in Kits for example. I just happen to know Randy Sharp. Then my newfound neighbour mentioned that he repairs things. That he likes to repair things. That often it’s just a short in the switch that goes, a very simple thing to fix, he said. I asked him for his email. Once we’re officially connected, I’ll be putting him on speed dial. Or, I would if the old phone I have actually had speed dial.

1 comment to Repair Man

  • That thing was six years old ? OMG – no wonder. In computer years, that’s like, I don’t know, middle-aged at least.

    Oh wait, I’m middle aged and I’m sure glad I can still get a decent tune up once in a while. Wait, that didn’t sound right.

    I am always saddened by the ‘just chuck it and get a new’ one mentality. Last summer I was trying to find a part of the head (that’s the toilet) on my little sailboat. The boat’s over 30 years old and she’s a real beauty. The head is probably 10 years old. When I went to a local reputable marine supply store, the sales guy (the owner’s son) told me just to get a new one. I mentioned that I wasn’t all that fussy about throwing stuff in the landfill at the best of times, never mind a perfectly good toilet that probably just needs a new set of seals in the pump mechanism. He dismissed me out of hand as some kind of ‘crank’ eco wacko. And he lost a good customer as a result.

    As it turns out, the ‘refurb’ kit for the toilet cost over 80 dollars. From what I can tell, it’s pretty much just a set of fancy washers, but it’s for a boat, so it’s got to be expensive. A new head is about 110 dollars. Clearly something is very wrong.

    To wrap the story – I bought the refurb kit from another store. I still haven’t fixed the head. It WOULD probably be easier to put a new one in than it’s going to be to rebuild the one I have. But come to think of it, I could probably just use a bucket…

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