Some time ago my printer was printing red lines on everything. I consulted my small manual and followed the appropriate troubleshooting suggestions. The red lines continued.
I called my local authorized Epson dealer and explained about the red lines. The woman replied, “You paid, what, $80 for the printer? Just buy a new one.” Not exactly the help I was looking for. I didn’t want to buy a new printer, regardless of the price; I wanted my printer to work properly.
In the end I tried something simple, like updating the printer software and restarting everything. The red lines disappeared and I continued using the printer for a couple more years.
A little while ago, I did buy a new printer. After sorting through the various brands, the functions and printing speeds of the models, I carried my selection to the sales desk. The clerk asked if I’d like to purchase their store warranty. “If it breaks, we’ll just give you a new one,” he explained. Remembering my conversation with the Epson dealer, I asked why they wouldn’t repair it. He replied that now that printers are predominantly plastic, they are harder to repair.
Customers often comment that my towels must last forever. I haven’t lived forever yet, but I can say that the first towels I wove are holding up well after seven years of regular use. In fact, I think they get yummier with use.
Seven years. That’s longer than many people keep their cars, iPhones, laptops and printers.
We’ve accepted that technology moves quickly and that it’s important to keep up with the latest developments. Even if my printer doesn’t break, advances in technology will render it obsolete.
Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate my printer. I rely on it. This is not meant to be a tirade against technology. I do, however, want you to pause and consider: Has the speed of technology affected our expectations of other products? Do we assume that other things won’t last either?
What if I could pass my printer down to my grandchildren, not just as a curiosity from the early 21st century, but as a well-loved, useful tool? What if it got yummier with use the way my towels do? What if it were a thing to be treasured the way I treasure my grandmother’s sewing chest?
As I reflect on the joy I experience when a customer discovers how durable my towels are, I started wondering: Do the people who assembled my printer know it wasn’t built to last, that it will be replaced rather than repaired? How does this make them feel? Do they feel a sense of pride in their work? How does this affect the final product?
My own experience weaving a product is this: The knowledge that a towel will last contributes to a sense of pride in my work. This pride then is lovingly woven into the cloth and adds to the quality of the cloth.
I don’t know yet whether these towels will become treasured heirlooms. I do believe that the love, care and pride that go into weaving them nourishes whomever uses them. I can sure use more of that. How about you?
My invitation to you: Aside from Apple’s great marketing job, why is buying the newest iPhone considered a necessity and investing in a nourishing handwoven towel that will last considered a luxury?