Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Throw-away Society?....Not in Peru!

Our first television had a 6” screen that our family would gather around from 6:00 pm when the station began broadcasting, until 10:00 when the signal stopped. I don’t remember what programming we watched, but I do remember my dad having to phone the TV repairman because the TV stopped working….again. TV repairmen and doctors made house calls in those days. The problem was almost always a tube. All electronics in those days were dependent on vacuum tubes. It seemed like the bigger the tube, the more expensive the repair bill. If it was the picture tube, well, then you were without a TV until you could afford a new one. Cash ruled in those days. If you didn’t have the cash, you didn’t buy it. Cars and houses were the exception.

I wonder if anybody does TV repair work anymore in the USA. If they do I’m pretty sure they won’t come to your house to do it. It seems like the mentality these days is that if something stops working you throw it out and replace it. But that’s not true in Peru. In Peru whatever broke can be repaired. If it’s metal it can be welded. If it’s got parts they can be replaced. Every neighborhood has several men who can repair whatever needs fixing - cars, motorcycles, sewing machines, chairs, coffee makers, lamps, electric razors and most everything else that can break. Including televisions.

This 7 year old Philips TV sits on a dresser in our bedroom. One of us is usually watching news or a movie before sleeping. A few nights ago when I turned it on I thought I was watching a psychedelic presentation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A barely visible Johnny Depp was covered by a big pink circle in the middle of the screen. The circle was surrounded by another circle, only this one was green. The remainder of the screen was blue. Not appreciating this version of the movie I changed channels, but the colors remained. Okay, I’m thinking that a new TV is in our future when Maribel mentioned a friend who “can repair it.” I seriously doubted that but having nothing to lose agreed to try it.

Do you see that little part on the right next to the TV? It’s stamped W3 MZ72AL 9RM in case anyone’s interested. Anyway, Maribel’s friend speculated that that part was probably the culprit, based just on Maribel’s description of the problem over the phone. He bought a new(?) part somewhere – in Chiclayo you can almost always buy or have made parts for almost anything that’s less than 100 years…no, make that 200 years old, and replaced it in less than 20 minutes. In our home. And it worked.

I’m a little disappointed. I was kind of looking forward to a new HD thin-screen TV on that dresser. But the old Philips is okay for something to fall to sleep by, and for the $16.67 repair cost including labor I am content to watch Willy Wonka without high definition.

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