Thursday, January 24, 2013

Use It Up And Wear It Out

I had a refreshing encounter with a plumber dude this morning.

Refreshing because (a) he was amenable to doing some work without the sharp intake of breath which normally accompanies a contractor’s commencement of laborious activity but mostly because (b) he whipped out an iPhone which quite frankly looked like it had been used to detonate a landmine.

The screen was cracked and fissured so much that activating any of the apps must have felt akin to caressing Bernard Cribbins’ whiskery jowls. There were paint spatters. There were oily skid marks. There were questionable potholes that may or may not have been caused by high impacts on the quantum scale. Of course, the allusion to Bernard Cribbins breaks down completely at this point.

It was a well used, possibly well loved, definitely not well looked after device.

And that pleased me.

It pleased me because the thought occurred that too often these days we lavish such love and status onto our electronic gadgetry that the merest hairline scratch on a touchscreen, the merest infinitesimal microdot of grit under a plasticoating and we have to head straight out to the vendor to buy a new one. A brand new one because the old one has now been sullied and besmirched. Part of the joy of having it and showing it off is showing it off in prime brand spanking new condition. The tiniest chip will render it second-rate and give it the appearance of being second-hand and, worse still, make it appear as if the device is nose-diving already off the cliff of contemporality and pitching itself useless-face first into the pit of obsolescence.

It was plain that what mattered to the plumber chappy was not the appearance of the device and, therefore not the status the device could confer onto him... but that the device still worked. It was functional. The touchscreen still worked. He could make still calls. Access his apps. Troll on Twitter. Download dodgy films from the internet.

In his own small way he was doing his bit for the environment (if not for the economy). He was, if not mending and making do, then at the very least just making do.

And this to me seems a good way to go. How many of us as we pass through life cast sneering glances and sneerier comments towards battered vehicles we see out and about on the roads? Battered computers being used? Battered bags carried around? Battered clothes being worn?

If they still work and are fit for purpose we should use them. They’ve gobbled up God knows how many of Earth’s resources just by being made. Let’s get our money’s worth before we buy yet more gadgetry and add to the resource debt that is currently mounting up against us.

Let’s use things up and wear them out. It is the highest honour we can afford anything that we create. To use a tool until it cannot be used anymore.

To this end then, despite the holes in the back of my underpants I am going to continue to wash and wear them. The front bit is fine. The hammock effect is uncompromised. I’m going to maintain their functional status for the long haul.

We shall go on together until the end. Or at least until my dangly bits go into freefall.

And I defy any of you to tell me I’m wrong.

18 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

You're not wrong, but you could do more. Why not discard all these inessential items and become a Hare Krishna? If you shave your head and keep the beard, you'll definitely look the part.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: to be honest, the way my hair is going I wouldn't have a lot to shave.

Dicky Carter said...

I'm sometimes relieved when something new gets a slight blemish. I don't have to care so much after that.

Löst Jimmy said...

You mentioned Bernard Cribbins, I saw him on Cbeebies this evening starring as an old sailor, but more importantly Freema Agyeman was also on the show as a saucy seaside cafe proprietor; "I'll have a knickerbocker glory Freema, with extra sauce please"...

Steve said...

Dicky: yes, the pressure to keep something "new" is sometimes unbearable.

Löst Jimmy: and a big flake 99 pleaase.

Livi TeePot said...

Graet post. You're right, we do pass judgement on the battered cars and such. When did that start happening? I'm sure people used to make do and mend, so when did it suddenly become uncool to do so?

Steve said...

Livi: we've been bamboozled by the glamour of the new.

EmmaK said...

oh no you are right. I have been driving my car around with a massive dent in my front for a year now - the way I look at it it will prevent theives from wanting to nick it. I don't have a smart phone but if I did it would look like the plumber's one as I am pretty clumsy dropping electronics down loos, potholes etc.

Steve said...

Emma: you have a true post-modern, pre-apocalyptic attitude.

Suburbia said...

It's the elastic you need to worry about!

English Rider said...

I see some deliberate anarchy in someone involved in manual work who decides not to protect his electronic tools with a suitable cover. He's obviously charging you enough that the planned obsolescence of his I-phone is a negligible expense to him.
My last flip phone was a "Rugby" and my i-phone has an "Otter" case. I accidentally dropped it in the street the other day and giggled as it bounced, unharmed.
Kuddos on finding a personable plumber though.

Steve said...

Suburbia: it's OK. I replaced the elastic with wire years ago.

English Rider: an anarchist plumber... Aren't they all?

the fly in the web said...

You want to leave the day job?
Write a book on how you found a proper plumber...

Steve said...

The fly in the web: and publish it under self-help / spiritual happiness...?

Owen said...

I'm all for battered... battered and tattered, even shattered. As if it mattered as long as the darn thing works and serves its utilitarian function, the rest is superficial.

Glad to hear your undershorts are well ventilated !

Steve said...

Owen: a well worn face has so much more character. And that works for underpants too.

John Gray said...

I had a refreshing encounter with a plumber this morning!
DO YOU LIVE IN A 1970s porn world Steve
Tee hee

Steve said...

John: funnily enough he did look a bit like Robin Askwith...