Our church is small with a small budget. We manage our money by doing a lot of things ourselves. For example, the church building is cleaned regularly by a crew of volunteers. Needless to say, cleaning a church takes a toll on the vacuum cleaners.
Recently an old woman died and our church was given her vacuum cleaner. It is old, but a good quality machine. The woman had been sick for some time and had been cared for by a young housekeeper.
For reasons I do not understand, my wife and I are the ones church members run to when something break down. We received the vacuum cleaner just before the start of a series of revival meetings. The “new” vac was assigned to the fellowship hall. One night, one of the women tried to clean the fellowship hall following a time of refreshments and fellowship. The woman called my wife over. “This isn’t working.”
We hauled the machine home and together we worked on it. It appeared in good condition except that the brush and its bearings were filled with dirt, etc, so that the bush did not turn easily, and the machine was not pulling much of a vacuum. While my wife went to work removing strings and dirt from the brush, I looked at the hose connecting the power-head to the dirt container. I brought my sewer snake in from the garage and cleaned 3 feet of debris out of the hose. With the brush turning freely and an empty hose, the machine worked very well.
The old lady’s housekeeper is a member of the current generation of young people. My wife and I are in our mid 70’s, having been born during WWII. The housekeeper most likely paid little attention to the condition of the vacuum cleaner. She probably would have kept using the vacuum cleaner with little or no thought to maintenance until, in her opinion, it was time to replace it. In fact, I was surprised that the dirt in the brush and hose had not caused the motor to overheat and burn out.
Had it been our vacuum cleaner, we would have occasionally cleaned the brush and periodically cleared things that stuck in the hose, but then, we are old-fashioned.
Our parents had grown up in the Great Depression. Then there was no money to buy new things. Our grandparents had financial incentive to keep things working. Furthermore, my wife’s father was a mechanical engineer, and my father was a “shade tree” mechanic who never took his car into the shop because he maintained and repaired all of his vehicles himself. Our parents maintained their possessions with period cleaning and maintenance. Our mothers shared in the cleaning and maintenance. While my father was in basic training, my mother made repairs to the family car.
When something broke, our fathers would fix it. My father kept a barrel of scraps in his workshop. when something broke, he usually fabricated the replacement part himself. Nothing was thrown out or replaced until it was well beyond repair. Similarly, my wife’s father kept machinery working and was known for helping his neighbors with simple repairs.
Granted, not everyone in the 1950’s and 1960’s had mechanical skills, but everyone had the common sense to keep possessions maintained, and when something did not work properly, they would get it repaired before it destroyed itself. Those with skills, did it themselves. Those without, would ask a neighbor or find a repairman.
Until well into the 1970’s machines were relatively simple and easy to repair. Repair men worked for reasonable fees that were usually only a fraction of the value of an item.
Why is it that the “younger generation” finds themselves frequently having to buy new appliances and vehicles while members of the “older generation” often are still using vacuum cleaners, washers and dryers. that are older than 10 years old?
Part of the reason is that our fathers taught us the principles of making basic repairs. While I usually do the more demanding repair jobs, my wife does her share. More important is that our parents taught us to keep our possessions maintained. When hoses start to get plugged, a cleaning is in order. When a wheel or brush does not turn freely, we know to look for something such as a carpet string jamming it or to look for a bad bearing. Some bearings can be replaced easily. Some wheels and pulleys can be replaced easily,
Why can the “younger generation” not keep possessions clean and lubricated? Even a squit of WD40 does wonders when applied periodically.
Keep your possessions clean and lubricated. When something isn’t working as well as it should, look for a problem such as a wad of carpet fuzz in the vacuum cleaner hose. A little observation, common sense and some effort will keep the appliance working longer. By golly, you might even have more cash in your wallet when it is time to replace something.
Reynold is a retired scientist who writes as a retirement career. Please visit his website, ReynoldConger.com to learn about his books. Most of his books are available for sale on that web site. Books sold on that website are autographed.