Humpty Van

Whether it’s the Scottish gene or a latent eco-conscience – the fact remains that I find it difficult to throw things away. It could be inherited – as I watch the generation Yers off to the school ball in hired cars I remember my own entry into ‘society’ chaperoned by Dad driving something he had christened “ The Humpty Wagon’. An old ambulance, Dad had bolted half a fence post to the front on which he attached the license plate. Apparently the warrant of fitness technicians could find nothing in law to prevent him from doing this – a fact in which he revelled. It didn’t help that he had picked up 22 sheep the day before the ball at an auction and had transported the hapless victims in the Humpty and I was terrified I’d spend the evening emitting one of Dior’s lesser known fragrances; ‘eau de rouseabout’. A concession was made to my ball gown by placing a sheet on the solitary seat although he didn’t tell me that he had forgotten to rebolt it to the floor having removed it to fit in all the sheep. When I begged him to drop me off at the corner he chivalrously insisted on delivering me to the door where late model Mercs and Beamers stood to attention. Unfortunately the humpty had brake issues which involved a pumping action followed by a hand brake finish which resulted in all the doors flying open as we finally came to a halt right in front of the main entrance. “Automatic Airconditioning” said Dad looking pleased with himself. “Not many cars have that.” No argument there. It was a salutary lesson to my adolescent snobbishness and requisite shame that I was actually related to these people who insisted on calling themselves my family. Surely there had been a mix up at the hospital and I was in fact the offspring of some normal father who would throw away a broken down heap of rust and go and buy himself a new car. Conceptualising budget restraints isn’t a teenager’s strong point but I later grew to love the Humpty and it became a family source of pride in just how long Dad could keep it going for. The senselessness of throwing away perfectly good things is deeply ingrained which was why I was so affronted when told to throw both the TV and computer away last week. The mad Latin insists that being a kiwi technician or repair man is the easiest job in the world - Argentina being a developing nation people actually fix things there whereas here, you ring up a repair man and he charges you ninety bucks and tells you to chuck it in the rubbish. The mad Latin has fixed both a supposedly irreparable mobile phone and a washing machine after I had paid someone to tell me the only option was to buy a new one. In order to prevent the soccer obsessed one from roaming the streets of Whangarei and possibly breaking into pubs to watch football at 2am I have given in and got Sky TV. The technician came. He saw. He told me to throw my TV in the bin. Somewhere deep in my heart the Humpty Van rose up in resentful rebellion. Startled into action the techo made a call and fiddled with knobs and hey presto – our TV is magically working again and the picture is perfect. For some unfathomable reason this seemed to annoy him. When my broadband threw a hissy fit after a ‘cable switchover’ and has subsequently refused to work for the past month I was underwhelmed to be told that I would get a $24 credit for the joy of telling the technicians my birth date 400 times and for the sheer thrill of turning off my computer at least 260. The brilliant diagnosis? Chuck it. Despite the fact that everything else works perfectly. And just a thought: why do you need a password to get some help? So someone can secretly impersonate me and endlessly repeat the date I was sent into this world so that they too can share the joy of being told to throw a perfectly good computer in the bin? I don’t think so.

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