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Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Support your Local Master

One of my most favorite concepts in Azerbaijan is the "Master." Master is a catch-all term for guys who fix things. There is a specific master for every system in your house (plumbing, electrical, stove, TV, water heater, satellite, etc) and everything you own that might break, rip or be ruined by a power surge.

A couple of things appeal to me about this.

First of all, I like the idea that if things stop working, you get them fixed instead of throwing them out. This only works in a place where consumer products are expensive and labor is cheap. Do you know how many times I've sent a set of speakers to the Speaker Master after they've been blown by power surges? Countless.

Masters also restrain frivolous consumer impulses. In the old days, when the TV stopped working, the Producer would say, "time to buy a bigger one!" but now, we call the TV Master.

Second, I like to say, "call the Master!" It implies that there is someone who has the skills to solve my problems, that there's someone who can restore order to a chaotic and unpredictable world.

This is not always the case with Masters. In fact, I think back about the goofball water heater masters who spent hours in my bathroom "fixing" the water heater. They left a swath of destruction and the water heater still didn't work. Most of the time Masters are old guys who stand around smoking a lot of cigarettes and who disappear for long periods because they "have to go to the bazaar to find a part." And, come to think of it, Masters tend to show up when they want to, so they don't contribute all that much to stability and predictability in a chaotic world.

Overall, though, Masters are good to have around.

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