Saturday, 24 October 2020
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Does anybody actually fix things anymore? We live in a disposable society

By  Sep 26, 2020

There is a Croatian saying that I have always followed, “I am not rich enough to buy cheap things.” Throw into the mix the English phrase of “you get what you pay for,” and you have my life motto.

Long gone are the days when you could actually fix something, or even take something to a craftsman for them to fix. From cars to washing machines and televisions, we live in a disposable society. Nobody probably even knows how to repair things anymore. And it’s more than suspicious that household objects have a tendency to explode as soon as the guarantee runs out. It’s as if they have been sabotaged. As in Mission Impossible “this microwave will explode in ten seconds.”

So when the vacuum cleaner finally bite the dust, when there was more sticking tape and super glue than actual vacuum cleaner left, there was no option than to upgrade. One quick point of advice – never Google vacuum cleaner, repeat never. For the next two days I was absolutely bombarded with adverts for bloody vacuum cleaners. With promises that “smart vacuum cleaners work so you don’t have to,” and “our new 3-in-1 cleaner will shine your home like never before.” One even promised to “cut my housework by half.” My twisted mind thought, that’s great I’ll buy two and put my feet up.

Our now half-dead cleaner had lasted for over 12 years. Off to the shops I went. “Which one is the best?” I asked the shop assistant as I was greeted with rows and rows of cleaners. “Well it depends on what you want from your cleaner,” she answered. “Clean floors, or am I asking too much,” I replied. Sometime in the last ten years vacuum cleaners had clearly gone through a revolution. Or more like a NASA inspired evolution. More lights than a Christmas tree, more buttons than a keyboard and more functions than a vibrator. Choices, choices! And even vacuum cleaners with Wi-Fi!

And the prices varied wildly, from - it’s so cheap it won’t last until the end of the week - to - you’ll have to sell a kidney to afford this. And what’s with the robot cleaners. “You can even control these with your mobile phone,” added the assistant.

If you put Smart in front of anything then it sounds…well, smart. “What about buying a brush and a dustpan,” joked a friend as he walked past clearly aware of my dilemma. Maybe I could buy a Smart Brush. In the same way that you guys use kalodont or maybe knauf or even selotejp, which are actually brand names rather than real names, the English use Hoover for vacuum cleaners. Hoover changed from a noun to a verb and was accepted into the Oxford English dictionary.

So when I saw the trademark Hoover I felt a subconscious attraction. That’s the power of marketing. Of course, there wasn’t one bloody Hoover but five, but at least I’d cut down my options. “Yes, that’s a good brand,” confirmed the patient assistant. “How important are decibels to you,” she asked. I wanted to answer “probably more important during sex,” but I shrugged my shoulders. “And it has a 3 year guarantee,” she smiled. So it’ll last three years and then roll over and die.

My new Hoover vacuum cleaner looked more like a mini space shuttle than something that would clean my floors. Unpacking it we soon saw that it had more connections and tubes than a blood transfusion device. “Are you sure this is a vacuum cleaner,” commented my mother-in-law as she rolled in laughter at us arguing over where each part went. Yes, it took as long to put the bloody thing together as it did for me to decide which one to buy and we still ended up with parts left over.

So just to ease my pain of losing half a day with a vacuum cleaner here is my favourite cleaner joke. My neighbour asked if she could borrow my vacuum cleaner. I said “sure as long as you don’t take it out of my house.”             

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