Sunday, June 20, 2010

TV Repair

Dad was an electrician. He picked up his trade in the navy. I remember him telling a story about when televisions were a fairly new thing that people marvelled at. In ship's electronic shop they had a device called an oscilloscope that drew lines on a screen to show you what was happening with an electrical signal - it traced the strength of a changing electrical voltage. Anyway, dad made a circuit that picked up a television broadcast and displayed a very fuzzy picture on an oscilloscope. Sailors all over the ship came to see Wesley's latest trick and to watch a horrible TV picture because it was all they had. That was the beginning of dad's love of electronics.

When I was a kid dad used to pick up a few extra bucks here and there fixing televisions. Back in those days televisions were not solid state but instead used a lot of tube electronics. Tubes varied in size from less than an inch long to several inches long. One of the ways that you diagnosed a TV problem in those days was by using a tube tester. It was a big board that had many different types of tube sockets in it. You plugged in a tube to see if it worked the way it was supposed to. The tester had a meter and switches on it that you used to run various tests. I often got to help with the testing. Dad would pull out a suspect tube from a broken TV and hand it to me. I would perform the test and tell him whether it passed or not. I think I remember it so well because it was the first time that I was trusted with an adult job. I actually helped to fix a TV that was broken. Heady stuff for a kid.

Television tubes went bad pretty often so dad had repeat customers. One of them didn't work out so well. One evening a fellow pulled into the yard, drove around to the back of the house, and backed his pick-up to the back door. There was a TV in the bed of the truck. Dad came out back to see what was up.

The fellow who got out of the cab of the truck was one that had brought a TV before. In fact, dad had fixed his broken set for $17 and the guy was very pleased. He bragged on dad afterwards and called dad "the best TV man around". But this day the man had a sour look on his face and announced, "It looks like you are going to have to lick your calf again. I want it fixed right this time and you are not going to charge me again. This TV won't even turn on."

Dad looked at the TV in the bed of the truck, looked back at the fellow and replied, "How long do you think it was since I fixed it last time?"

The man answered, "It's only been a couple of months."

Dad stepped back inside the house and came back with a copy of a receipt. He looked at the fellow and said, "This says that you were here a year and a month ago and the problem then was no sound."

“You mean you’re going to charge me again?”, the fellow asks.

Dad says, “No, I’m not going to charge you again because I’m not going to fix it again.”

“But I brought it all the way down here.”, the fellow whined.

“That ain’t my problem.”, Dad said as he went back inside.

Moral: When you've got a good deal don't get greedy.

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