Sympathy for the Blacksmith


The world is always changing and that change means that some things will disappear. I've heard linguists talk about endangered languages; some of which fewer than 10 people are able to speak. Of course after 25 seconds of hearing a linguist speak being endangered seems like a good idea. So I've established that languages can go fuck themselves, why the hell am I writing then?

Instead of an answer to the question posed in the previous paragraph I have decided to ramble on for a short while until I figure out what it was I planned on writing in the first place. I already have a title with the word blacksmith so I should say something about them however since I did just mention them I feel that I am now free to discuss whatever I choose. It feels wonderful.

I feel pity for the VCR repair industry. It would probably be more correct to say the consumer electronics repair industry but I'm not the kind of person who is so insecure that I have to be right all the time. At least 100 years ago, if your VCR was broken you would first go out to Radio Shack and buy a head cleaner. This of course never actually did anything but you felt justified in this since a head cleaner only cost around $10 which was much less than a repairman charges you for looking him in the eye. Eventually you would have to swallow your pride and take the unit into a small, dirty shop with lots of electrical parts strewn around.

These business' were easily identifiable to those who knew their secrets. The name of the store usually had the words "electric" and/or "repair" in it. Once in a while they'd throw you off by using the word "supply" but only the most daft of customers were confused by that nomenclature. You would also be guaranteed to find a plethora of signs of various manufacturers who's equipment they were authorised to service. If your VCR was a Mitsubishi and the shop only serviced JVC or Toshiba you would generally be out of luck if you still had a warranty. Of course since nothing broke as much in the old days most people had no warranty and could take their gear anywhere they pleased provided they had the cash. Most of the time the technician would look at the device along with the circiut diagram that came with it. Using his highly advanced voltmeter he would eventually find the problem and then instruct you that it he could fix it in 10 minutes if he had the right part. Needless to say that the part was never handy and he would have to special order it from the manufacturer which would take about six weeks to arrive as long as the tides were behaving properly. In the end however your VCR would be fixed for much less than the price of a new unit and you could get back to never missing an episode of Family Feud.

But just like the French language these places are disappearing at an alarming rate. The majority of today's consumer electronics are built by giant robots who take pleasure in your DVD player completely failing the second the manufacturer's warranty runs dry. In most cases no person is able to fix it when it does break. Even if it could be fixed the cost would be much higher than a replacement unit. So most people end up bypassing the repair industry altogether and just buy a new DVD player. Personally I've gone through four cheapo DVD players in the last two years. Every time I replace one it costs less since I'm not looking for the latest and greatest at the moment(nor do I really need it).

So more useless plastic gets sent to the dump while some poor shmuck's livelihood becomes less profitable than ever. Nobody seems to care about it anyway since as long as we can keep buying new electronics we remain placated. I'm one of those people who always enjoyed taking things apart and fixing them and wouldn't at all mind if I ended up spending my days fixing amplifiers and inhaling solder. But alas it was never meant to be. The world keeps changing and only the tremendously retarded get worked up about stuff like this.

As for myself I plan on raising a glass of bourbon in honour of the humble VCR repairman tonight. May your current vocation carry you comfortably to your grave good sir, for it shall never be replaced.