On the rare occasion when I sit down and actually watch a little television, it doesn’t take long to be reminded why these occasions are so rare.
I happened to pass through the living room yesterday while my husband was watching a program about Isambard Kingdom Brunel, undoubtedly one of the most innovative engineers to grace the planet (and one whose projects can still be admired in many places in England). That’s the good thing about television these days—with a few spare minutes, you can actually learn something, and the quality of many documentaries is outstanding.
Then came the first advertisement. A woman is scooping litter from her cat’s box. Her expression dramatizes her complete revulsion at having to do the task, as she carries the bag at the end of her arm out to the trash. But wait! There’s a solution!
For a mere 40 bucks or so, you can have not one but two receptacles to hold used litter until you’re good and ready to take it out to the trash! Each container is equipped with a supply of plastic liners (the high-tech equivalent of the plastic grocery bags I use, I guess), and a mechanical closure in each container crimps the top so odors don’t escape.
Now we see the same woman again, beaming from ear to ear, carrying out another bag of cat waste—after some of it, purportedly, has ripened for a week. She looks like it’s her birthday and she’s just spotted the cake! (Interestingly, this second baggie appears to be very much the same size and shape as the baggie in the first scene, leaving one to wonder if her cat sometimes uses the toilet.)
Okay, let’s think about this for a minute.
For years, health experts have been urging people to be more active. We’re encouraged to park some distance from the door at a mall or grocery store so we get a little more exercise going to and from the car. Yet here are several happy customers endorsing a product that, at most, can save them a few steps to the garbage cans. These women (like me) look as though a little bit more exercise wouldn’t do them a bit of harm.
Hurry! Call now!
Who are these people who sit around thinking up kooky ideas for products nobody ever needed and nobody ever will? And who buys these gadgets?
And what would Isambard think about the way some modern engineers choose to apply their intelligence?