Friday, 15 July 2011

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH BUILT-IN OBSOLESCENCE

When did you first discover the concept of built-in obsolescence? My first transistor radio was a precious gift from my parents. When a boy at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind pulled the ferrite rod antenna out of it, I assumed the repair\ man could fix it. After all, he fixed our T.V. many times.

In Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), I described how I hoped my receiver could be repaired. This is what actually happened.

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Meanwhile, I begged Mom to have my radio fixed. One sunlit afternoon, we walked uptown to the repair shop. Mom placed my transistor portable on the counter and said, "My son's radio won't play. Can you fix it?" The technician opened the back and examined the receiver's innards for a minute.

"It would cost more to fix than the radio was worth," the man said as he handed back the receiver. I felt crushed. Arnold's wrong-headed tampering had irrevocably separated me from hearing the music I loved.

"Please buy me another radio," I begged as we walked home. "All the other kids have radios. Why can't I have one?"

"Because they cost a lot of money, that's why. You should have taken better care of your radio. Every time we give you something, it gets broken."

My thoughts were gloomy as Mom and I walked home. I hardly noticed the brilliant July afternoon. For the millionth time, I wished that boys would leave my possessions alone.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.