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Return Of The Tinker

April 27, 2018

tin·ker (tiNGkər)
noun (especially in former times) a person who travels from place to place mending metal utensils as a way of making a living. The word comes from the 13th century as ‘tyckner’ or ‘tinkler’ a term used in medieval Scotland and England for a metal worker.

The bad news: They’ve been gone for some time. The good news: They’re coming back!

For years now, Americans have been throwing away household items that didn’t work anymore. From knives that need sharpening to metal tools to toys to lawnmowers, etc. America has simply grown weary (and lazy) of fixing things. It is often much cheaper to buy a new one that to fix the old one. However, times are changing.

The tinker was a fixture in America from the start but especially well-loved from the depression years until after World War II. People didn’t have the money to buy a new one so they fixed their belongings, often with the help of a travelling tinker. He’s the guy who fixed your child’s broken wagon, fixed a broken hand mower (Yes, millennials, we used to push a mechanical mower.), put pots back together and even sharpened kitchen knives. He was sort of a jack of all trades when it came to metal objects.

Just recently it has been stated that tinkers are making their way back into the American scene. Why? One possible explanation is that the American public is starting to turn away from cheap, ill-made Chinese household objects in favor of more expensive American goods. If you’re going to pay more, it might be cheaper to maintain your investment rather than chucking it into the garbage can. Another explanation could be that there just isn’t anyone out there who can currently fix things. If you need a carpenter, plumber or electrician, chances are that you’ll wind up with a guy my age at your door. Generation X and their spawn do not aspire to these trades, preferring to all be hedge fund managers. If they can’t be hedge fund managers, they often choose none of the above as an occupation.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to see the return of the tinker. They have been out of circulation long enough and America needs them to fix our stuff. Welcome back!

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  1. It’s good for people to learn the value of maintaining their tools. Unfortunately, even US manufacturers engage in planned obsolescence practices. I think European consumers tend to have better products and maintain them longer than Americans, but that is not a scientific observation, just what I’ve observed in my travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right! Here in Italy we recondition everything. I recently borrowed a falce (scythe) that was made in 1898. I reconditioned and sharpened it and it worked like a hundred plus years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When we first moved to NC from NJ, I had expected to have no difficulty finding work. After all, I typed 70 wpm, was computer literate, and had a diverse background that included real estate and insurance sales. Au contraire!
    I ended up taking a job selling shoes at a local department – for less than a year, thank God. While there, I began advertising myself as a handyman (I called myself Mr. Odd Job). Within a short period of time, I had so many customers that I was able to walk away from the shoe business (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and for the next dozen years, I fixed, adjusted, painted, and built everything from Venetian blinds to screened-in porches.
    Unfortunately, some physical conditions imposed upon me by Mother Nature forced me to retire prematurely.
    The point being that there is an overwhelming need for those services I had been providing. Wake up, Amerika, call a tinker! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true! I am also a jack of all trades but this jack is getting older and nobody is around to help. God bless the tinker!


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