Each day I loose a little bit more faith in humanity's ability to survive. Apart from the fact that somewhere on the planet someone is blowing someone else up over money, land, energy or religious fanaticism; it's the simple local things that make me shake my head the most.
Today I was driving through my neighbourhood when I spotted something interesting in a pile of "rubbish" left on the verge for council cleanup. Almost resisting the wife's disembodied voice in the back of my head telling me to keep driving, I pull over and spot what caught my attention...a set of body-building weights. In fact it's almost identical to a set I already own; a ezy-curl bar with 2x6kg and 2x5kg weights and locking nuts. It's all a little bit rusty, but weights are weights right? I figure I could get at least $30 on ebay for the set, so I start lifting other stuff off them so I can put them in the back of the car.
Thats when I lift up what looks like a small suitcase. It catches my attention because its way heavier than what it should be. I release the funny latch on it and lift the lid to find a pristine condition Jamome model 611 electric sewing machine with foot pedal, instruction manual and about 20 rolls of cotton, pins, needles, scissors and other assorted sewing stuff.
In the foot of the machine is a test strip of cloth with multiple stitches sewn into it, and the needle and bobbin are still threaded.
I took it home, but I've only just now had the chance to open the case and have a good look at it. First things first...check the bobbin and shuttle. It looks like there are about 4 threads coming from the shuttle...something wrong there. The needle thread looks ok so I open the instruction manual and read up on how to release and thread the shuttle. A few attempts later and I successfully have two threads waiting lined up at the back of the needle waiting to sew.
I plug in the pedal and power cable and the light from the machine suddenly startles me. I didn't expect that to work without having to press a switch. In fact I really didn't expect the bulb to work at all.
I place the test strip of cloth under the foot and lower it. Gingerly, I nervously press the pedal by hand and get that characteristic sewing machine growl in return. I press a bit harder and the needle comes to life, dancing a simple straight stitch down the cloth. I gun the pedal a bit harder and I'm at the end of the cloth before I know it. I turn it around and start again, this time pressing the pedal to the floor, giving it full power. The needle is a blur as I race to the end of the cloth and come to a dead stop. I hit the reverse button and back up a few stitches, stop, raise the foot, cut the thread, inspect the cloth, and I have a perfect double line of straight stitching front and back.
So what has a sewing machine and a few body-building weights got to do with humanity's ability to survive the future? I'm glad you asked.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this stuff, so why's it being thrown out? The weights might be a bit rusty but that doesn't effect their function in any way. A bit of paint would even fix that.
The sewing machine may be a bit old, but from what I can tell it is in perfect functional condition. The shuttle just wasn't threaded right.
So the people who owned them may not have needed them anymore, though I can't fathom why. The simple answer to that is sell them. They certainly aren't rubbish, and even rich people don't just throw good things out without seeing if they can't get something in return for them first. That's why they are rich.
Get a few bucks by having a garage sale or selling them on ebay. It's what I'm going to do with the weights, and only because I already have a set the same.
The sewing machine though is an absolute polished gemstone. It was made back in the days when things were built to last generations, but even then it doesn't look like it has seen much use. So what if it doesn't have an LCD display, USB input or wireless pedal? And why throw out the cotton and all the other stuff?
The clues are there and I think I've pieced them together.
This isn't a situation where the family has just bought a shinny new sewing machine and thrown their old one out. They don't sew. At all. Ever. If they did they wouldn't have thrown out all the cotton and other useful stuff. Which means when their clothes get tattered, as clothes these days do way too quickly, they don't fix them. They throw them out and buy new ones. Holes in your socks? Throw them out. Holes in the knees of your jeans? Throw them out. Need to sew on a button that's come off your shirt? Don't bother wearing it any more until its unfashionable then throw that out too.
These people are the definition of the disposable society. A society that expects oil to be cheap and last forever. A society that has no thought for the landfill required to dispose of all their useful, unwanted items. A society that has an attention span so limited that it can't read a set of instructions and thread a bobbin and shuttle on a sewing machine correctly.
And the scary thing is these people are the norm. They are the majority. They are the supreme rulers of the planet right now simply because they are the biggest consumers with all the latest gadgets and designer clothes.
I guess I shouldn't be too harsh though. They are probably single handedly keeping the economy ticking along at the moment.
Can you tell I'm angry? Angry and happy at the same time. Happy that I was lucky enough to spot this stuff before a big storm come through and ruined the sewing machine forever. It's mine now. I'll use it to repair stuff that breaks, and when it breaks I'll repair it too so I can keep using it. Then I'll teach my children how to use it, and when I break and turn back into stardust, one of them will get to keep it.
This is how life is meant to be, but its how the majority of life isn't.