I have two television sets. One of them is on the blink. It has been that way for about six months. It's a Sharp 14" Multi-System that we bought about ten years ago and we only use it now on those rare occasions when there are two worthwhile things on television at the same time. We keep it in the bedroom and pay for a second cable connection, so I figure it might as well be hooked to a television that works.
The Master's, live from Augusta, Georgia, will no doubt be aired here in the Philippines a week from now and, golf nut that I am, I'll want to watch every minute of it. The live coverage will air between midnight and six a.m., but the replays from the previous day's rounds will be shown in primetime. So last week I went to the appliance store at the mall, found a salesperson where the new Sharp flat-screen models are on display and obtained a telephone number for the Sharp repair center. They have telephone books here in the Philippines, very thick ones, but they're utterly useless.
The technician came out to look at the set wearing a blue nylon jacket that was three sizes too big. It did say Sharp on the back which was reassuring. Yes, here in Manila television repairmen do indeed make house calls. He opened it up and pulled out three big circuit boards and went to work with his makeshift voltmeter, testing the solid-state circuitry. He spent most of his time cleaning and re-soldering some of the dodgier connections. After about half an hour he came up with his diagnosis. Two parts, he said, IC unit, capacitor. I had tried earlier without success to establish some dialogue, but until that point he hadn't uttered a word. And that was when it occurred to me that my tech's grasp of English was limited almost entirely to the jargon of solid-state technology and kitchen electronics. Tagalog does not contain words for these things, so there is no point in translating the technical manuals. How in the hell did he learn this stuff?
Tomorrow he'll return with the parts and fix it in about five minutes. A week from now my wife can sit on the couch in front of the Trinitron in the living room and watch dramas on the Hallmark channel while I try to follow the flight of Tiger's tee shots on that little fourteen inch screen in the bedroom. I paid the tech his 250 pesos, the front end of his housecall fee. In American money that's less than five bucks. He'll collect the other half when the set is working again.