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.