10 Jan 2008

the fridge repairman's corner of the world

My really new refrigerator's ice-making capacity broke down. instead of nice cubes of ice timbling down, my ice tray sheeted over (too bad it's only large enough for a hamster to skate on). So, i had to call the repairman. I had figured that since the ice still formed, but it came out in a sheet; it had to be the hidden-from-sight ice-tray up to no good. True enough, without enough dismantling the device, the repairman plainly said to me that the tray has been hit and is broken. He had appeared at my door with a small defined box under his arm.

me: wah, looks like this is a common fault
frm: it is lah. people put coke cans and stuff so the ice tray bangs and breaks lor
me: how come cannot just replce the broken tray?
frm: the whole thing comes together. u keep the old thing lah in case one day you can use it again.

In under five minutes, he took out the entire device - the size of a small shoe box - replaced it and was writing me a receipt for nearly one hundred and forty dollars!
The we spoke some more:

me: u guys are paid a fixed salary is it? [i am thinking, how to be paid any other way if this is how things are fixed]
frm: yes, nowadays, everything is quite ...module. it's not like last time. even a plasma TV, usually you have to replace the whole part.
me: no need to really troubleshoot.
frm: i pity the old guys, today even a belanga (a chinese slang for an indian national) can do it - just have to know the part only.
me: yes i remember the old days, the TV repairman took out this whole board and was testing the tiny bulb bits..
frm: nowsadays, no need lah. all the training wasted.

by now, he is at the door, has his shoes on, and turns to leave as i wish him well.

I thought i saw something in his eyes. A sort of sadness that life has become so 'easy'. I wonder what it meant to a man's pride --when machines design things by portions and he cannot creatively resolve a problem. A bit of dumbing down is happening here - in our very progressive world!
And yes, pity the older generation who rightly bemoans that it is they who know the real stuff.

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