Thursday, July 30, 2009

Traveling repairmen and SHTF situations

Hi Fernando,

I recently opened my own business as a computer repairman, working out
of my home. What I do is go out to people's houses and work on their
computers at their houses, mostly cleaning off viruses and such. I have
been thinking a lot about how I would operate in a SHTF scenario in
America, and the best I can come up with is to leave the really
expensive stuff I carry, such as a portable USB hard drive for file
transfers and a tool kit, in the car and just come to the person's door
with my CD case, unless I've determined over the phone that the other
stuff will be needed. I can always run out to the car and get the other
stuff later.

There probably aren't many people with computers in Argentina, but how
do people like plumbers and electricians who have to work at people's
houses try to avoid getting knifed for their tools? I would think that
there's always the possibility of being called out on a fake job just so
they can rob you. I try not to carry cash for that reason. So far in the
month or two I've been operating it hasn't been an issue, but things
aren't too bad here quite yet. Probably within a couple years things
will start to get really bad.

As an aside, I've been noticing lots of ads looking to buy gold here in
America, a sure sign that things are going downhill. It seems that every
city now has a number of casas de cambio that buy gold and silver,
although they're so new here that there isn't really a word in the
language for them yet. Many times they masquerade as places to buy fresh
water since the tap water is going downhill, but inside there will be a
cambio. They will have a few little knickknacks on display in the front
window to fool robbers, but they're cambios and not gift shops or water
dispensaries or whatever.


There’s a lot of people with computers here, and what you’re working on is a good idea. Many PC repair guys work in a similar manner here, going out to get the client instead of sitting in their stores complaining there’s no work. Well done!
Computers here are expensive but used older ones are cheaper and lower middle class folks can still buy an oldie. It’s good enough to get on line, use Word or Excell, and there’s some free dial up available last time I checked.
Some of the older PCs used in public buildings are real dinosaurs, but computers are popular here just like anywhere else. Argentina is still a modern country, in spite of everything.

I wouldn’t leave things in the car, you’ll get a window smashed and your stuff robbed (unless you keep it in the trunk, but still).
Try not using expensive gear unless you have to, the minimum amount needed to do the job, and keep everything organized and in sight.
One thing they do here, check the type of neighborhood you’re visiting first. Here, they sometimes come up with an excuse if the place is known to be too dangerous to risk it. Better to just say no, think of a couple excuses to come up with.

The “I buy gold” places. Yes, those popped up here after the 2001 crisis too. A sign to keep in mind for sure, of things to come.
Same here, small kiosks with pens, or candy stores can be found downtown, but their real business is currency exchange. The ones buying and selling precious metals are usually stamps and coins shops that found a new market.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought a little cloth satchel in the tool section of the local computer store a couple days ago. It holds most of the stuff I need without looking important like the tool box did. (I bought the box because at the time it was all they had.) I can easily tote it around and hide it, unlike a plastic box.

Also, for anybody contemplating self-employment in a trade, you need to know your market and the best places to advertise. Also, you need to experiment with ad wording until you get it right. My first ad in the local coffee house throwaway paper was badly written, and I got no sales. I fixed it.

Big daily papers are generally poor choices to advertise in the US. Free magazines are good, along with trade papers and such. There are few community bulletin boards around here, but in some places (like rural Nevada) they would be a good choice. Also, research your price! My original price was too high. I had to cut it by about 1/4.