Vocations for a New America: The Fix-It Guy

The other day, I was working on a repair project. At one time, over the years as a homeowner, you’d wind up doing hundreds of these projects. It simply how it was done. Only the well-off hired such things done.

I was raised by children of the Great Depression, and the concept of hiring someone to do work around your house was as alien as the concept of eating out in a restaurant. My parents were, as the old saying goes, “tight as ticks.” I remember when the Great Pine Slaughter began when I was 5 or 6. There had been an ice storm, and my mother had decreed that all those dangerous pine trees had to go. And so they did, cut down and cut up with axes and cross-cut saws. Buying a chainsaw to make the work easier? Those things cost money!

Those tools are still in my basement, and still usable. Me, I have chainsaws. As long as I can fuel and oil them and keep myself in chains and bars, I’m not breaking out the old tools. You can take this “tight” business too far in my view.

My parents had this same value system when it came to something that was broken. Take it downstairs to the basement, take it apart, and fix it. Only if it couldn’t be fixed and it was necessary to survival, say, something like a toaster or a coffee pot, would a replacement be purchased, and that only after pricing it in several stores over a period of days or weeks. Many times, I think they spent as much in the effort of shopping as they saved, but I think it was a source of entertainment.

Those values are nearly lost. I’m one of those who still does such things, and in my experience, I’m a rarity. I don’t care what it is, I’ll take a stab at fixing it. It’s already broken, so it isn’t like I can damage it. Though modern products not usually easily repairable, I can still fix a lot of things. One of my recent triumphs was our Dyson vacuum. From the smell and sparks, I deduced the motor had burnt out. Dysons are good, but not cheap, and I wasn’t in the mood to buy a new one. So, with some searching of the Intertubz I was able to take it apart, source a replacement motor, and put it back in service. As a matter of fact, when I’m done writing this, I need to put it to use. *sigh* Housework-you do it, and in 6 months you have to do it again.

In the New America, the nearly lost ability to fix things, either because new ones are unavailable or will cost money you don’t have, is going to be a very marketable skill. It’s amazing how many younger people can’t drive a nail, change a tire on a vehicle or tighten up a loose screw. They can’t change their own oil, and a lot of them can’t even check it. A person who is “handy”, is going to find themselves a highly valued member of their community. This person will be even more valuable if they understand how to take the detritus of the Old America and re-purpose it for use in the New America.

There is still time to hit the used book shops and pick up some of those old how-to books on the cheap. Good tools are amazing inexpensive these days. And things are break now, so you you can get in plenty of practice while you have the Intertubz to look things up on.

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