The art of REPAIR

The handle on my suitcase broke.Whom to blame? The taxi driver who extracted it from the well of his minivan, or the baggage handlers at American Airlines, or was it just wear and tear? I want answers!  Every problem must be solved! And if you live your life that way you get stuck in the past and never move forward.So it comes down to repair. But where to go? – I had to bring it into a shop.

     Which reminds me of my favorite repair joke of all time. In the back of “MAD” magazine. There was a cigar-chomping repairman delivering a bill for the repair of Telstar, which those under the age of forty might be clueless as to the identity of, but baby boomers know as one of the initial satellites, the one that got all the press. And the government employee is staggered by the billion dollar bill, cheap today, I know, but back then no individual had a billion, the price was stratospheric! And the repairman said…I HAD TO TAKE IT INTO THE SHOP! I journeyed inside Shoe & Luggage Repair, where the owner started to dissect my suitcase.

Who knew there was a zipper that removed the lining? – The Owner SAM

Who knew that the loose plate was associated with the trolley handle? –  Sam.

Fifty bucks. For the brackets on both sides of the handle. And if that didn’t do it, seventy five bucks for a handle too.

I don’t think this suitcase even cost me $200. I bought it in 2007. It’s served me well. Was it time to retire it? But that would require research and a trip to the luggage store and I was right here, right now, sure!

Never underestimate the price of gas. And last time I checked, they weren’t making any more time. That’s what I’d like back from the last century, some of that time I wasted!

So Sam got out his drill and I held the suitcase at an angle, and he performed surgery right then. It was a miracle! He fixed my suitcase! Hell, he even did extra work, rooting the free-floating trolley plate with a screw. And then he asked me if I wanted a new pull.       You know, you fly and the little tab that allows you to run the zipper outside the case breaks off, well, he’d put a new one on for ten bucks.

Ten bucks? Well, it doesn’t pay to go halfway.

And as I whip out my credit card, I’m thinking how repair is a lost art. There’s such extreme satisfaction in rescuing the past, in keeping something you’ve become attached to functioning.  And as I exited the shop I wasn’t sure I’d made the economically sound decision, but I had peace of mind and a smile on my face.

Chalk one up for the old guard. Everybody’s saying Internet skills are the key to survival. But you can still make a living working with your hands, quite a good one based on these prices.


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