Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Repairing or Buying New

A few summers ago, when my children were young and I had more time than money, I put new webbing on a folding outdoor chair. How many people do you know who have done that? Do you know anyone who has repaired a window screen or a vacuum cleaner? When the dryer breaks, is it cheaper and easier to just buy a new one?
Walker Percy saw this coming. In his novel Love in the Ruins he describes a world in which "the refrigerator doesn't work. Nothing works. All my household motors are silent: air-conditioner, vacuum, dishwasher, dryer, automobile. Appliances and automobiles are more splendid than ever, but when they break down nobody will fix them. My car broke down at the A&P three weeks ago and nobody would come fix it so I abandoned it....Don't tell me the U.S.A. went down the drain because of Leftism, Knotheadism, apostasy, pornography, polarization, etcetera etcetera. All these things may have happened, but what finally tore it was that things stopped working and nobody wanted to be a repairman."
When I first read this, in 1980, it sounded right to me. Twenty-eight years later, it seems to me that it has come way too close to being true.
How did you dispose of your last computer?


Cschu said...

This DOES seem very real. Our vacuum cleaner recently went on the blink. We took it to the local repair shop. First, they said they couldn't really guarantee that they would be able to look at it for almost a week. (A Week?!? Can't anybody get a little service around here?) We knew it was kind of old and clunky, anyway. So we bought a new one. We figured that if it wasn't going to cost TOO much to get the old one fixed, we would donate it to Interchurch for someone who could use a free vacuum. In the end, it was going to cost more to have it repaired than it cost us to buy a new one. (One of inferior quality, but still!) So we asked the vacuum shop to junk it for us, and they did.

I think our last computer is still downstairs. Well, there's Ben's laptop which is on the blink. But we are probably going to get that fixed. Glynis's computer is probably going to get replaced with a laptop soon because it won't run some software that we want it to run. (Could we "upgrade"? Probably. But is it worth it? No!)


P.S. I like "hearing from you" on this new blog thing.

Anonymous said...

Our oldest computer is in a box in the storage closet in the basement. I plan on recycling it if I can ever find a place. Our last computer is still sitting beside our newest computer in the office; we have two of everything in here--two cpus, two printers, except only one monitor. I'm not entirely sure what happened to the other.

paj said...

I hate to disagree with Walker Percy AND Jeanne, but a lack of repairman is not the root of the problem. Mark and I used to talk of quitting our jobs and moving to the mountains--simpler lifestyle etc. Mark said he could be a repairman, and he could. He can fix almost anything. But who wants something "fixed." Almost no one. The vacuum cleaner story doesn't disprove this; notice how quickly the decision was made to get a new one and perhaps donate the old one. (I say this as someone who is in need of having her vaccum cleaner "looked at" but who is instead tempted to purchase a new one.) Several years ago, we were at historic Jamestown village in VA, and one of the docents talked about the English settlers trading with the Powhatan. The settlers had metal needles, which the Powhatan came to covet and eagerly trade for. The docent explained that the needles weren't necessarily better than the bone needles the Powhatan made and used; they were just "new." So you can blame lack of repairman, or you can blame human nature's love of the new and shiny.

lemming said...

My first computer is probably still in the bowels of Watson Hall. My second is in my garage.