I service my car at Bates Garage because I trust them and they deliver a great product. One of the reasons I trust them is because we live on the same street. Another reason I trust them is because they depend on word of mouth to stay in business. There it is, plain and simple. We rely on one another. We’re a community and there’s pressure to do each other right. There’s consequences otherwise.  Not to mention the fact that the Bates’ are good people and highly skilled mechanics. Yeah, they charge a little more but it’s worth it for the peace of mind and future security of knowing they’ll still be there the next time I have car trouble.

When I go to buy something I want to spend the extra bucks on craftsmanship, on products and services made with pride, made to last and made in America. These days it seems like taking pride in America freaks people out (including a lot of Americans and people who want to be Americans).  But that’s a whole-nother strongly opinionated discussion I’m steering clear of at the moment.

Right now I want to talk about why I use a hand me down vacuum cleaner that’s twenty years old. This thing makes my house smell like a combination of Glade plug-ins and Caesar, our Doberman Pincer who died when I was in the fifth grade. Know why I still use it? Because it still works. That’s why. Sure I’ve had newer vacuums. There’s at least two in my shed right now. Both of them tore up, as we say around here, within a couple of years.  They’re cheaply made pieces of junk imported from some country that likely hates America and Americans.  And sadly, they will probably wind up in a landfill along with thousands of other less-than-three-year-old vacuum cleaners. Eventually, I’ll rip out the wall to wall carpeting in my lovely little trailer and downgrade to a simple broom. Until then I pray Grandmother’s sweeper hangs in there and the market keeps selling nag champa, my favorite incense (to cover up the smell of ancient dog hair and more importantly the plug-ins).

I can’t articulate my point eloquently because I get so darn tore up about the whole thing. But the gist of it is this. Americans were duped into believing lower prices were the ultimate in customer service. Cheap stuff meant we could afford more and everyone could afford higher standards of living. That was the lie. The truth is we traded our freedom from foreign control, quality jobs, quality products, craftsmanship and customer service for trillions in national debt, high unemployment, questionable products manufactured in questionable ways in places that don’t share America’s values or our product safety standards and places to whom we are now indebted.

Now what? We’re all complaining about the huge evil corporations when we’re the ones who bought into the lie in the first place. We built these companies. We pressured them to drive down prices at the expense of quality, at the expense of our very own jobs for heaven’s sake.

Now that the little guys are gone, as far as I’m concerned Lowes with their self check out and crappy-cheap made in China everything can kiss my behind. I plan to become a broom maker.