A sigh escaped as Dave spotted the technician at work on the payment unit. He sauntered towards the front of its non-existent queue, passing the larger queue feeding into the three service desks. Given the length of their queue, he'd be faster waiting for the unrushed technician than haranguing one of the attendants to take his payment at a service desk. They probably wouldn't know how, anyway.
Recognizing a waiting figure in the longer queue, he drifted to a stop near its front, offering a weary greeting. "Hi, Mac."
Glancing across, the old man grunted acknowledgement, impatience evident in his barely suppressed glower.
"Hey, Dave," came a voice ahead in the queue, its source halting his darting glances towards any source of possible interest. Smiling widely, his attention quickly dropped to the rolled up purchase under Dave's arm. "Whatcha got?" He registered Dave's presence in the separate queue a second later. "And why're you buying it?"
"Hi, Jim. New TV. Wife wants a new channel, and the ten year warranty's up on the old one." He suppressed a smile at Mac's snort, preparing for the moan.
"New TV, just 'cause of a new channel." Mac sent an accusatory stare his way.
Dave shrugged. "Only way to get them."
"Used to be you could just retune the damn things."
Jim offered a sceptical glance. "Sounds technical."
His glare switching targets, Mac restrained himself to a subdued growl. "Not much more than changing channels. You can do that, can't you? Or d'ya have to exchange the set every time?"
"No." Jim's head shook with cheerful ignorance. "Just when there's a new channel. Or when there's a new design out. Or if it starts going wrong."
Mac huffed. "I can remember when you'd take faulty sets to an electrician for repair, rather than have to get it replaced."
Jim looked doubtful. "You'd actually hire an electrician just t'avoid getting a new set?"
"They built things to last back then, so you didn't have to keep replacing them."
"But you had to keep fixing them?"
As much as he may enjoy letting this run its course, without the option of walking away when it got irritating, Dave reluctantly tried defusing it. "There's also the cost difference. Televisions were more expensive."
"Cos they spent more time an' money getting them right," Mac interrupted.
Dave nodded in acceptance. "And the parts were bigger, so they'd have been easier to fiddle with." Not wanting to get too caught up in this he nodded at the box under Mac's arm. "So what's your problem?"
"Phone. Sound's gone on it." His face discouraged comments on his returning it for a replacement, the customary reason for visiting service desks.
"You've still got the original packaging?" Jim said, amazed. "Or when I'm changing furniture."
"What!?" Mac gave him a confused stare.
Working back along the conversation, Dave turned to Mac. "One of the things that'll make him change his TV."
This drew a rolling of the eyes. "Hell, what we got today ain't what I'd call furniture, anyway. I don't care how ergonomically designed to keep you regular it is, it ain't comfortable. Makes me feel like I'm living in a goddamn modern art exhibit. And again, the stuff ain't designed to last. How the hell am I supposed to get comfortable in an armchair I've had less than five years."
"At least most furniture gets recycled," Dave offered. Taking advantage of the lull accompanying Mac's stare, he turned to Jim. "What've you got?"
"Shoes," he said, then held up his other bag. "And clothes for the fabricator."
Another predictable snort from Mac, as he moved aside for the person ahead of him to leave the queue. They appeared uneasy with the person standing behind them. "'Cause god forbid you should ever use your clothes more than once."
Jim looked dubious. "Yeah, it's called hygiene."
"We did fine with washing clothes between uses."
"There's nothing stopping you washing yours," Dave said, belatedly appending, "apart from them no longer making washing machines." This argument met little welcome in Mac's simmering glare, leaving Dave to turn his attention to Jim.
Who ploughed on with the conversation. "Besides, what if you lost weight? Or gained weight and chose not to have a weight removal process. You'd have to replace them all then, wouldn't you? And in the old days didn't you just throw 'em out rather than get them refabricated? Seems kinda wasteful."
A scowl rippled across Mac's face as he had to admit, "okay, so a few things are better, but the point is that stuff used to last longer, and you'd get more use out of them."