As I shift away from accepting lighters through the mail for repair, this article will enumerate some of the reasons. I share my thinking on the matter as our mission at DependableFlame.com continues to evolve. Our goal has always been to help folks get their petrol lighters back up and working again, the only question is how best to achieve that.
I Want To Help
I was a rudderless ship when the foundations of DependableFlame.com were being built. I have been somewhat coy about it in the past and it’s not for theater or hijinx. If I thought I knew what I was doing then, the facts wouldn’t bear that out. I was broken and foundering and grasping for anything that might possibly give me footing.
I had some ideas about what I was doing and where I might be going with it. You might even be able to say the basic framework hasn’t changed at all since our very inception. Our focus, however, has changed often.
In retrospect, I really mishandled some things back then that I could have gotten much more use of if I had gotten on the YouTube wagon a little faster than I did. I had plenty of money to buy lighters and was buying, selling and repairing a lot but had yet to really consider how to integrate video into the operation at all.
At that point, repairing lighters people sent to me via the mail just seemed like a normal, goodwill kind of gesture to perform. I never charged anyone and was always up front about that so it was never about money(though there were folks here and there that figured out a way to thank me anyway).
Packages Piling Up
I have made it painfully obvious to anyone who ever inquired about me repairing their petrol lighter that I work on my own time. I adhere to my schedule, not anybody else’s. Maybe there’s another way to do it but I don’t know how.
I worked for somebody else for a long time and it didn’t work out too well for me or them in the long run. I make no apologies for the decisions that I make in running this business because every decision I make must meet two criteria: does it promulgate the cigarette lighter hobby and is it feasible long term without sacrificing my sanity or well-being.
It’s hard to imagine how things escalate so quickly in the mind but despite my repeated warnings about how slow I would most certainly be, there were still clients(I use this term loosely as I never charged and was only doing these folks a favor) who wanted to hurry me along. It was beginning to become a nuisance to repair other people’s lighters.
Anxiety Begins to Pile Up
So, here I am wanting to help out and in a good number of cases, I did. I have fixed so many lighters and received such nice letters in response thanking me for the ability to once again fire up with Grandpa’s old Zippo or repairing a lighter that they were able to give as a gift to a special someone.
But that one email I might get out of the blue on a Wednesday afternoon when it felt like I had everything under control and now poof! Just like that, my peace is split in two by the expectations of someone who clearly did not take me seriously when I said I work at my own pace and especially when I was doing all this for free.
I wrestled with this for most of the last couple of yrs because I can think of a handful of people who reached out and were magnificent, not only with regulating their expectations while I had their lighter but also in communicating to me that they did not possess the wherewithal to repair their lighter for themselves and thus were truly thankful. I don’t wish to ever deny anyone who is truly in need.
I Am In This For The Long Haul
Using a petrol lighter requires a level of commitment most convenience loving Bic users can’t fathom. An investment(not necessarily an expensive one either) must be made in fuel and flint and regular maintenance at least. It is my firm belief that an individual capable of maintaining a petrol lighter should have no problem cleaning out a flint tube or rewicking one.
Where repairing lighters free via the mail enabled me to help those particular people with their specific lighters, making a single YouTube repair demonstration video can help countless people repair untold numbers of lighters. Just at the current level of the meager operation we are running here, I literally help hundreds of folks every day.
The great thing also about teaching folks to repair their lighters for themselves is I remain free of the stress that I have allowed to build in the past by agreeing to do something that while it may be helpful, it wasn’t healthy for me in the long haul.
I burned out of my last career, I have no intentions of allowing this one to be sabotaged by my own mistakes. As we near the five hundred video milestone on YouTube, I work daily to find interesting and entertaining ways to highlight old petrol lighters and educate those who use them of the universal principles used to repair and maintain them.
It Never Hurts To Ask
You never know when your story may get my attention and, like I said, I never want to turn away anyone who is truly in need. I think back to a gentleman who got ahold of me shortly after I got settled in my current location. He let me know about the work that he had done in his career, his desire to use the lighter he was inquiring about and the devastation that work and time had wrecked upon his hands.
Obviously, I felt for him, that could be me soon or somewhere down the road as my hands betray me daily. I am a sucker for a sob story and a softhearted person to begin with though, so I repaired his table lighter and if that same friend were to contact me again in the future, I’ll repair any lighter he wants simply because he asked me.
Please leave your comments, questions or suggestions at the bottom of this or any other page here at DependableFlame.com. Our very existence and ability to continue to bring you the resources and content you love are dependent on your interaction with us here on the website.
If you need to post a photo, please consider making use of the DependableFlame Facebook page. It is very user-friendly and you may even encounter some new lighter collecting pals!
Ebay is a good place to get ahold of me as well. Those listings and messages are always monitored.
We publish lighter video to our YouTube channel each weekday morning @8am central. If you don’t find the exact video you are looking for, ask and I can probably point you toward a video that will help you with your particular lighter. If not, I will put your lighter on my list of projects to make repair videos for in the near future! Please subscribe to the channel and tell all your friends.
Until next time…