The projector stops working on the third day of Mark's class. He puts in a call to maintenance but it's still broken the next day, so he just climbs up on a table to look at it. Once he's unscrewed the cover with his keys (no screwdriver handy), the broken wire is pretty easy to see. Mark sticks a paperclip in there as a quick fix and turns the projector on.
"Problem, Professor Watney?" The first of Mark's students are beginning to filter in.
The picture comes in nice and clear. "Nope," says Mark. "No problem."
Mark doesn't buy glasses, just drinks out of old jam jars. They're good enough, and they have lids.
Mark almost buys an immersion blender, until he realizes how wasteful that would be. He has a whisk and a screwgun, after all.
Mark collects plastic milk bottles for a month and then cuts them in half, filling them with dirt and mounting them in a frame to use as an herb garden.
Mark's laptop hinges break, but the laptop itself works fine, so he just cuts clear plastic and glues it on as a frame, fitting the pieces together so that—
"You realize you could just buy a new laptop," says Melissa.
"But this one works great, now." Mark tilts the laptop forward and back, grinning at Melissa over the video connection as the angle shifts. The plastic creaks ominously, and Mark's smile gets a little strained. "It might need some more glue."
"I will buy you a new laptop," says Melissa.
"I don't need one," says Mark. "I'm making do."
Melissa looks worried, and she leans into her camera so that her face gets big on Mark's screen. "You don't have to make do," she says. "You didn't spend all that hazard pay, did you? You can just walk into a store and buy whatever you need."
"I know," says Mark.
"You're not on Mars anymore."
"I know. This is just—It's fun, you know? I have a problem, I solve the problem. It's easy. Everything else on Earth is complicated."
"Like what?" asks Melissa.
"Grocery shopping," says Mark. "Paperwork, taxes. People."
Melissa looks at him for a long time.
"I'm not traumatized," says Mark.
"Yes you are," says Melissa.
"Maybe a little bit," says Mark. "But I'm coping."
The plastic chooses that moment to become completely unglued, and the laptop flops backwards. Mark leans forward, wincing.
"What if I buy you a 3D printer?" asks Melissa, staring at the ceiling. "Or is that too high-tech?"
"That would be awesome," says Mark. "Thanks."