Wednesday, October 05, 2016

1703 Not Ready for NASCAR

Sometimes, you have to learn new skills.  And sometimes as you do, you have to take some moderately hard knocks.

Like when the new shower head you install falls off the wall pipe and flusters you long enough to cause a small flood in the bathroom.

Like when the car won’t start and you open the hood and look in and have no idea what any of that stuff is.

Like when you re-set the date on your calendar watch and don’t realize until much later that you have inadvertently also set the clock back 45 minutes and arrive somewhere an hour late.

Like when a temporary health problem reduces your ability to walk and you find yourself in the grocery store trying to use one of those electrified sit-down carts.

Unrequested advice #1: the previous guy on the motor cart didn’t plug it back in. The battery gauge shows five out of five bars until two minutes of run time and while you’re heading for the bread aisle, you’re stranded among 500 bottles of nail polish.  Please please plug the thing back in when you finish with it.

Some observations:
--By turning the machine off when it needs a charge and stalls, waiting a moment and turning it back on, you can move maybe eight or ten feet as you search for a wall plug.
--People in the fancy grocery are less likely than those in the discount shop to give you room to pass.
--Cashiers who normally tend to overfill bags at checkout will give you more of them with less stuff in each than if you had a pushcart.
--These things need rearview mirrors.

You think the merchants will spend up to a grand each for these things because they’re kind and considerate?  That may be a part of it.  But here are some more

--You will spend more time in the store when you use one of these.
--You will travel at a more leisurely pace and visit more aisles than you normally would.
--When you see more, you will buy more.

So, it’s not just convenience and altruism.

But there are disadvantages:
--The gizmo that takes your credit card is usually too high to reach seated.
--You can’t operate the self checkout machines without standing.
--You can’t reach the high shelves.
--Unless your market has sliding doors on its coolers, you can’t open them for the milk or the juice or the Coffee Mate or the eggs if you get close enough to reach them.
--While you can put a week’s worth of groceries in the basket as you travel, once bagged, the stuff no longer fits.

But the real problem is learning to drive these machines.  They have an admirably small turning radius.  But maneuvering takes practice.  There’s no Driver Ed; no license required.

You have to rehearse “Y” turns in aisles where hardly anyone goes.  The place where they display toaster ovens and coffee makers is usually customer free.  The worst locations:  Greeting cards, vitamins and bottled drinks.  People congregate in knots and ponder their choice of birthday greetings or the size and strength of fish oil capsules. (If you spent as much time studying as you do picking an anniversary card, you would have passed Algebra.)

On your maiden voyage, you will
--Crash headlong into something.
--Sideswipe something else.
--Leap out of your seat in surprise the first couple of times you squeeze the reverse lever and the warning beep sounds much louder than you remember -- if you remember it at all.

But it’s not all bad.  From your seat, you get to see a lot of nice backsides without people noticing and thinking you're a pervert.

I’m Wes Richards, not Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
© WJR 2016

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