We live in a society in which it is almost always easier and cheaper to replace something than to get it fixed and in which we throw away our perfectly functioning devices with slightly newer devices because they happen to be just a little bit faster and have a bit more shine to them. (I am guilty of this, having bought an iPhone 4 even though my iPhone 3G was still more than adequate!) One of the big problems is that with so much manufacturing being outsourced to China, the devices on which we rely are far cheaper than if they were domestically produced by workers being paid a fair wage. If your $5 calculator breaks it would probably cost $20 to get it repaired anywhere, if you are lucky. Since you could get four calculators for that much money, it makes more sense financially to just throw your calculator in the bin and to get another.

Repair Cafes and fixer organizations are here to change that, and they are doing it in an action oriented manner. The thrust of the movement is that people get together, usually about once per month, and bring things that need to be repaired. Invariably there is someone at the meeting that has some expertise in the general area of the item (clock repair, musical instrument repair, etc.) and the items brought will be repaired, free of charge. The people doing it are doing it as a labor of love and for the sake of keeping mostly functional objects out of landfills.

You might be thinking that there could be no possible counterargument to places such as the Fixers Collective of New York. At my office, I actually got into a little argument with my coworkers about it because I mentioned that I might take the clock from the wall to the Collective to get it repaired — something was just a little off with the mechanism that connected the battery and it would occasionally not work right, stopping the clock until the connection was made again. They told me that it would be far easier if we just got another clock because if I took into consideration the money spent on subway and the time spent going there and coming back, it would be more expensive.

I happen to have an unlimited MTA card and I was really planning on going if I would make other plans for the area as well so really it would not be a waste — especially since I am certain that it is no more than a two minute repair job if that. Nevertheless, they told me to stop the nonsense since it is not my money that is at stake and not my clock that needs to be replaced. I ordered a new clock, out of frustration — picked the first one I saw that was about twenty five dollars and actually was happy when it came as I saw that by chance I picked one that was manufactured by a company in Chicago that has been making clocks since 1906, The Chicago Lighthouse.

There is a positive to this sad little argument that I had and that is that I got a clock out of it that I will be taking to the New York Fixers Collective — we will make a family outing out of it! Young Chaim Yosef needs to learn that it’s not okay to just throw something away the first time it seems to be a little broken.


      1. New York is probably the only place that has one. Sounds interesting though. Can’t wait to hear what Chaim has to say about his visit. Do you take him on MTA much?

        1. Lillian,

          They’re actually sprouting up all over the place. All it takes to start one is a few people with the time and energy and know-how.

          We take him fairly frequently as we don’t own a car! 🙂

          1. I can’t imagine. I have two. BUT again, by watching TV (smile), I can imagine why it really isn’t necessary, and given some the traffic I’ve seen depicted, I’d be in jail in two days. j/k

          2. Even on reality television, nothing on television is real! 🙂 The subways and buses are far more affordable and convenient except for certain things like big grocery trips and when Elizabeth has to take Chaim to the doctor for his checkups — the area where the doctors practice is not bus accessible!

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