Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Idea #6: Fix It
This month, an object lesson for me: The year that our second was due to be born, I asked for a watch for my birthday. I was a tad obsessive about keeping track of breastfeeding and having a timing device within sight at all times seemed required. I wore said watch for about 14 months before something sad happened and it kind of gave up. Over the next months, it moved from the Find A New Battery pile to the Someone Should Put That Shelf to the I Can't Throw It Away Drawer.
Last week, I found it.
For almost two years, I had managed without it but when I saw it, I remembered how much I liked it, and how handy it is to have a watch on. I remembered how much I use "What time is it?" as an excuse to check my phone which most often turns into quickly checking email, and then facebook and then a quick round of brickbreaker and What? you want dinner?? Yeah, that happens.
Maybe a watch would help. I should get a new one, I thought. Until I remembered the part where I'm trying to be more thoughtful about these things.
Turns out there are watch repair people who do more than change batteries. One of them is tucked away in the corner of the Bay, and helpfully told me a quick fix of the hands was all that was required and we'd be back in business. Thirty-five dollars and seven days later, I've got a me a new watch.
Except it's not new. It's the same one as before, obviously. But fixing it was new. To me.
My in-laws' toaster hasn't lasted 50 years because it's so awesome and has never broken. It has lasted because when it breaks, Pops takes a day or two to figure out what's wrong with it, and then he fixes it. Sure he's retired and has time and (insert reason why he can do what we can't here), but he fixed it when he was working. He fixed it when he didn't know how. But he found time and he figured out how, because it was still mostly fine and that's the kind of man he is.
This may in part tie back to the last post on doing work I would prefer not to do. I am part of a generation of people who would prefer not to spend time or money on menial work like fixing things when we can in one fell swoop replace and upgrade. No broken, no old, no out-of-date. New! Shiny! Amazing! We are raising children who won't even know that these things can be fixed, never mind know how to fix them themselves. Isn't this kind of terrible?
So I think I'm going to try looking at things with a longer view. I'm going to give our objects as long a life as I can. I'm going to find people who know what I don't and can fix what I can't and see if that doesn't maybe just undermine a culture that has made not only broken objects, but broken people and broken relationships tossable.
I'm going to work towards being a keeper-longer fixer-upper.
IDEA #6 Response:
What objects have you found a way to keep around a bit longer by fixing them instead of replacing them? Who knows how to fix stuff that most of us throw out?