Meet the Heroes of Disposable Technology. Not to be confused with the band, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Although at least one of the employees at Tech Mission on Mission Street does have a rock star name: Santiago Bliss.
Santiago, 18, has dozens of tiny phone parts laid out on a desk in front of him. Eventually, each needs to make their way back into the iPhone he’s working on. It takes a lot of patience, he says.
He’s a senior at Downtown High School in Potrero, and taught himself how to fix iPhones by watching Youtube.
Saddam, the owner’s brother, hears us chatting about school and tells me he went to the “school of hard knocks.” Adding, “I graduated valedictorian too!”
Saddam, who doesn’t like to give out his last name, tells me that he was named after the fallen leader.
“Try getting through airport security with a name like mine,” he says.
“Like Barack Hussein Obama,” Carlos, another worker, chimes in.
“But Hussein’s a common name,” Saddam says. “It’s as common as John in English, or Carlos in Spanish,” he tells Carlos.
Tech Mission at 2649A Mission St. is like the Mac store for both the working class, and the more green-minded customers, who want to reduce, reuse and recycle. Instead of upgrading your broken phone, you fix it. Instead of buying a new computer, you buy a used or refurbished one.
At the cash register, customer Glenisha Randelson is excited to have her dead phone working again.
“I’m so happy, happy, happy!” she squeals jumping up and down. “Oh my God, I haven’t seen my baby in a long time,” she says referring to her smartphone.
Her phone cost $60 bucks to fix after her nephew dropped it and the screen “turned blue and died.”
A couple, who just stepped off the plane from Holland, enter the store. Fred and Corry Tjallingii are in town visiting their daughter and grandkids, who live down the street. They need to switch their EU SIM card for an American one.
The owner, Sharif Silmi, and his brother Saddam talk to the couple about the Amish, who speak Pennsylvania Dutch.
“Oh yes,” Fred says. “But that’s not us. Europe is a Godless country.” To this everyone laughs.
I’m in the back talking to Santiago Bliss about his intention to study “anything to do with computers” at MIT one day. But first he may go into the military to help pay for it.
Becoming a Marine will also help him prepare for the impending economic apocalypse.
“We’ll need survival skills to protect ourselves, and the ones we love,” Santiago tells me.
“From what?” I ask.
“Martial law,” he says matter of factly. “Economic collapse, government takeover.”
Saddam and Sharif finish off their discussion about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with the Godless Dutch couple, and Saddam and his small son start to leave.
On his way out I ask Saddam if he’s one of the store’s owners.
“I don’t own a thing,” he says. “I blow where the wind blows me, that’s the only way to be.”
And with that, the wind blows Saddam out the door with his young son in tow.
I blow out soon after. But, since Santiago says he can fix my cracked iPhone for $15 bucks, so I’ll be blowing back around before too long.