When was the last time you attempted to repair instead of buying a new replacement?
Back in the day, my grandfather owned a tailor shop. He sold custom suits, pants and the like, but a big part of his business was actually in repair. His customers would routinely come in to get their garment fixed, like having the zipper repaired. Right next door was a shoe repair shop, and his business thrived. Customers would always go back to have their shoes re-polished, or have the sole of the shoe replaced. After he was done with your shoe, you could hardly tell it from a new one.
Things have changed through the years however. Repairing seems to have become an lost art. When was the last time you actually thought of getting something fixed instead of just buying a new one? Shoe repair shop? Do you even know where to find one anymore?
The Unintended Consequence of Our Good Life
Make no mistake. The typical American lifestyle became tremendously more comfortable in the last 50 years. Instead of working at the factory, many of us are now white collar corporate executives. Instead of being maids, we became chefs in high end restaurants. Instead of being a blacksmith, we became small business owners who hire other people to do what we used to do.
As the typical middle class job increased in income and importance, so has our expectation of what is deemed “worth our time”.
- Sewing was once very common, and actually a celebrated skill. Nowadays, good luck finding someone who will even be willing to buy a sewing machine.
- Repairing your shoe was a no-brainer once. These days, you will have to actually search for a shoe repair shop. Once you find the location, you better enjoy the drive because chances are good that the shop won’t be too close to where you live.
- Blacksmith? What? Many people don’t even have a knife sharpener.
Wait, But It’s More Than That
You might think that these are relatively small problems, but what I’m referring to is far more important. One example is that more and more young couples don’t even know how to even cook and worst of all, they are unwilling to learn. Though we all enjoy a good meal at home, society, as a whole, is losing its ability to make good food.
Over here in Southern California, my friend once made an astute observation that many of the cooks in every type of cuisine are Mexicans. It doesn’t matter if it’s Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, American or Brazilian food. If you walk into the kitchen, most of them speak Spanish.
This would not be a problem normally, and my intention is not to make racial remarks. After all, culture sharing is both good and enriching. But what if we aren’t really sharing and instead just transfer our knowledge without gaining any? As we slowly transfer our food culture south of the border, are we actually losing our own? What if no one in Japan knows how to cook Japanese food anymore?
Sure it might not happen in our lifetime, but I bet the blacksmiths didn’t think it was a problem until, well, there just aren’t any left.
Just Stop and Think for a Second
As we make more money, simple logic tells us that fewer and fewer tasks become “worth our time”. But next time something comes up and you are thinking about ROI, think of not only the immediate need but the long term benefits.
[Interested in ROI? Click Here to Learn About Spending to Make More Money]
That restaurant may know how to cook a good steak, but you can always make a better one.