Whatever happened to the tv repair man?
Sep 30, 2015 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
I was watching one of my favorite movies recently, Grumpy Old Men, and something struck me during that scene when Max Goldman is first invited to Ariel’s home for dinner. As he moaned over the conversion of her old tv-set to a fish bowl, it got me thinking – whatever happened to the tv repair man? I grew up in the Midwest and had a car that didn’t do interstate travel so well (her name was Lucy and while she was reliable, it was best not to ask her to go over 65 mph). Translation: I drove through lots of small cities spaced out between rolling corn fields and I always remembered seeing three guideposts: a church, a bar, and a tv repair shop. But as the years went on I noticed my third beacon drifting away. What’s to blame? Well, as we’ve mused before, we do live in a throw-away culture. Although buying vintage is a great way to cultivate a greener footprint, how do we handle those items, like tv’s, that are tougher to buy vintage? Seems to me the best way to still bask in some green rays while enjoying modern convenience is to take care of these purchases. But is that counter-intuitive to what’s drilled into our culture?
Let’s consider this: as we rely more on our electronic gadgets, the quest to get the latest and greatest becomes all powerful. I mean, who can forget the long lines for the Wii or the newest iPhone? But what about when those gadgets break? Do we repair them or just toss them aside for something even better? Statistics tell us only one in ten tv owners will go through the repair process. Will you be the next “one?” So far I haven’t had to repair my television, but I’ve been asking myself this exact question lately. I’m all up for mending my clothes and other treasures, but it’s like my brain shifts when it comes to fancy gadgets. Weird how that works and I wonder: is that everyone else’s “go to” thought process?
Thankfully, not everyone has my default reaction. In spite of these poor odds, and even combined with the fact that our new smart televisions are made to last about three to four years (not very smart in my opinion), die-hard tv repair shops remain open.
Repair shops run by men like Gus Rubino. Check out the article link for Gus and you’ll see how he speaks about his craft. And that’s just it – a craft. Collectors and vintage enthusiasts have a natural appreciation for craft. Audiophiles and their love for vinyl are resurrecting the turntable repair industry and video game connoisseurs are making old gaming systems hip again. As “old” becomes desirable again, repair and maintenance shoots back into the forefront. But will there ever be a market for this with televisions? Is there a demographic out there who crave seeing media in less-than-high-def? Google “collecting old tvs” and you’ll see a results list littered with recycling tips. Your suggestions will include phrases like “where do I get rid of an old tv.” To paraphrase a comedic icon, do televisions get no respect?? Ebay has an article on collecting hints, but so far no one has commented. Without an upswing in collecting enthusiasm, do you think the tv repairman will enjoy a renaissance? Can the equation be as simple as desire to collect = desire to repair? Let me know what you think in the comments!