In a terrible fix for repairs

Elise T. Chisolm

July 23, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

YOU KNOW what's wrong with every-day living?

No one wants to fix anything anymore.

No one really wants to work. No one really wants to tune your car in a few hours; get your television set fixed in a few days, your dry cleaning done in 24 hours or your gift exchanged in five minutes.

We are a throw-away, disposable society now: ''Don't know when it'll be ready, Mrs. Fidget.'' ''We have to wait for the part, Mrs. Restless.''

Tune in to my buyer's woes and the decline of old-time craftsmanship. You can't find them anymore -- the fixers!

I had a bracelet, the catch broke. It was sterling, a good bracelet, a favorite. I took it to a big jewelry store.

''We don't work in silver, ma'am, it's just not worth it.''

Then I took it to another place, and they told me, ''The man who repairs silver only comes in once a month. He's a disc jockey.''

Then I took it to one of those old-fashioned department stores where the jeweler used to sit in a glass-enclosed cubicle fixing things. He was 92 and so accommodating.

I asked for Mr. Puttsy.

''He died five years ago,'' was the answer.

Would you believe a dentist friend fixed it along with a crown for a tooth. The bill was high, but I got the bracelet fixed and what looks like a new tooth.

The same day my car clock stopped, and they told me it was a fuse that was also attached to the lights.

The busy-looking repair man said, ''Uuumm, you'll have to let us have the car . . . ''

''For how long?'' I asked.

''Well, it will be a week, at least.''

A 9-year-old neighbor child fixed the clock.

Later that week I tried to get a pair of shoes dyed to match a dress.

Three places told me they don't dye anymore -- no money in it.

I went home mad, dipped my shoes in a bowl of coffee and my head in cold water. But listen, I got my shoes the right color.

My friend Millie, who is also an exasperated consumer, says what disturbs her the most is that it's even tedious to get to your doctor to get your body fixed. ''I waited two hours with a sore throat, and it was gone when he finally got to me.''

I tell her that the real answer is don't break anything ever or fix it yourself. But then the do-it-yourselfers may have put some of the fixers out of business.

We talk about the shortage of doctors and scientists, but it's even harder to find someone to fix a broken window pane.

Of course, you can run to the mall -- that American answer to the village green that once included the affordable smithy and the apothecary shoppe.

Yet I can't trash malls. In the modern mall you can get your hair done, your hearing tested and new glasses. And at a major department store chain there's a dental clinic -- you can get new teeth.

However, in mallaramas you don't find antiques or even antique people who fix things.

You might just find Millie and me looking for a new fixture for an old lamp, or someone who can mend the zipper on a coat while we wonder if anyone wants to really do anything anymore.

Buy it new, kiddo! That's the American way, and then just throw it away!

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