Thursday, June 24, 2004

Elvis is in the building

As is quite comon in the professional workplace, an Elvis impersonator visited our office the other day. Why? I'm not exactly sure.

What I did learn however, is that Elvis impersonators make no apologies. This particluar Elvis, who was decked out in full Elvis garb — a white jumpsuit, collar up, sunglasses, and white boots — walked in like he was wearing a suit and tie. There was no, "Hi, I'm Bob. You're probably wondering why the hell I'm in the middle of New Jersey dressed like Elvis Presley. It's because I am an Elvis impersonator, and I believe strongly in what I do, which is why I wear this outfit everywhere. I sleep with this on, in case you were wondering."

No, there was none of that.

I would assume that our noteworthy publication was doing a story on this Elvis. After all, in the last three weeks, we have done features on the Catwoman — a local lady who housed 35 cats and kittens in conditions deemed abusive, and who was forced to turn herself in to the SPCA, and the Wolfman — another local who has lived out of his van for the past 43 years, though I'm still not sure what, exactly, besides his lengthy beard, earned him the "Wolfman" moniker. I guess it doesn't really matter.

Whatever the reason he was here in the first place, I think it kind of boosts morale on the job whenever you see Elvis by the water cooler, hanging out like he's just killin' time before lunch. I may be starting to question what kind of publication I'm working for, but that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying every minute of this. It's not everyday that you get to see the King.

Monday, June 21, 2004

A little story

I am the circualtion manager at a newspaper in New Jersey. This means that I have to deal with drivers, those people directly responsible for getting our newspapers to the stores, homes, sewers, etc. This may sound crazy, but older people who deliver newspapers for a living aren't always the most stable of folk. Luckily for me, most of my drivers are very good workers, and good people at that. But I ran into a little problem a few weeks ago that brought me to the conversation I became involved in today.

One of my drivers, let's call him Mr. Alcoholic, went on a drinking binge three weeks ago, never picked up his papers, and stole the money that he had already collected from the stores that was supposed to go directly to me. This is status quo in the field of newspaper drivers, so after I threatened to press charges, I finally got the money back, all in singles. I wore gloves as I counted it. But alas, our newspaper has a policy against going on drinking binges and stealing company funds, so unfortunately I could not allow Mr. Alcoholic to continue delivering our publication.

So I went through my files and I found a note from a woman who had called a few months back looking for work. I called her and left a message explaining that we had an opening. Three days later, when I had not heard back from her, and was getting desperate, I called her back again. This time she answered.
"Did you get my message?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said.
"So...are you interested?" I implored.
"Yeah, definitely." she replied.
Now obviously, my desperation prevented me from asking her why, if she wanted this work, did she never call me back. But whatever.

So this woman, let's call her Ms. Alcoholic, comes into the office to fill out the necessary paperwork. As she's filling out forms, she asks, "Does it matter that I have Lyme Disease?"
"Uhhh, not at all. I mean, it won't affect you from delivering the papers, right?" I asked.
"I don't think so."
"Okay, then it's not problem at all."
Long pause.
"You know what Lyme Disease is, right?" she asks.
"Yeah, I'm familiar with it."
"It's when you get bit by a tick, and then you get Lyme Disease."
"Ummm, yeah. I know."

I needed two forms of identification from Ms. Alcoholic, and I was shocked to discover that she actually had a license that was not expired. Her other ID, because she had no bank, ATM, or credit card, was her birth certificate, which it turns out, I should have kept for collateral.

I thought it was going to be a good marraige, our newspaper and Ms. Alcoholic. But I guess I should have seen it coming. After she delivered the papers that week, and got paid, I never heard from her again. I tried to call numerous times, but to no avail. I hope she enjoyed the money. Maybe she spent it on Lyme Disease research. Or Vodka.

So yet again, I was out a driver. But I had a plan. I had this one woman driver who already had a small route with us, and I discovered that she had just quit her route with another newspaper. So I called her up and asked her if she wanted the extra work.

"Uhhh, maybe," she said. "Ya know, I'd like to put you in touch with my ex-husband 'cause he was looking for work, but he just got his leg removed the other day."
"Oh, yeah," says I. "That'll definitely make delivering the papers a little tough."
(Side note: When dealing with newspaper drivers, one tries not to ask such petty questions like, "Really? What happened to his leg?" Trust me. You don't want to know.)
"Oh no," she replies. "He can drive okay. He just can't get out the car."
"Yeah well, as you know, a lot of times you guys have to get out of the car to bring the papers into the stores, so that's gonna be a little tough."
"Yeah, I hear ya'. But ya' know what? I'll take that extra route, and then when Billy gets his peg-leg, I'll hand it over to him."
"Okay, great. I'll be here on Monday if you want to come in. I'll print out your new route and you can check it over and see if you have any questions."

So today came, and the woman never showed. So I called her up. At 3:00p.m.
"Hello? Oh - I'm sorry did I wake you up?" I asked her.
"Uh, yeah, that's okay. I was just laying down for a bit."
"Oh, sorry. Listen, I was just wondering why you didn't come in today to check out your new route?"
"Yeah, sorry about that. I was planning on coming in tomorrow. You see I'm goin' through menopause and when I get my period I bleed all over the place. I just didn't feel like leaving the house like that, coming over there, and bleeding all over the place."

Now I may not have the best eye for these things, but I think she's a keeper.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Liquid Fantast Part II

This was written a couple of weeks after it's predecessor...

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a great idea that I had. Well, now I have a new idea, and it’s to forget about the old one.

As many of you may remember, I thought up a wonderful invention: an additional shower faucet that releases liquid soap into the water stream, thus making the act of taking a shower more efficient. I was a bit apprehensive about releasing my idea to the general public, or that is, all of you, because I thought many of you jerks would think the idea was stupid. Then I realized that most of you don’t take showers anyway, so why would I care what you think?

Actually, the responses were very positive, and a lot of you actually liked the idea. And as you all know, I had already submitted my name and contact information to the ISC (Inventor’s Submission Corporation). Well, their “patent specialist� called me back last week, and if Mel is in charge of getting things invented, then it’s a wonder how we even have toasters.

I came home from work one day last week, and my dad, who had read about my idea (and because of his plumbing expertise, probably feared he would have to help initiate it) informed me that I just missed the callback from the ISC rep. I think he found it amusing that I actually submitted this idea, and so did I, but what did I have to lose? So I got Mel’s number and planned to call him back the following day.

I do a lot of things at work that I’m not supposed to do, but this was the first occasion that I actually used company time to call in an idea about an additional shower faucet that releases liquid soap into the water stream. Mel sounded like an old, disgruntled employee who had heard one too many horrible ideas. He confirmed all of my information was correct, and then said, in a dull monotone voice, “So, what can I do for you?�

Now, maybe I’m crazy, but I assumed that this was the part of the conversation where I should start talking about my idea. So, I delightfully began to explain my idea to Mel, until he immediately cut me off with a “whoa, whoa, stop right there!� At this moment, I figured that somehow, after hearing “Well, my idea is an addit…� that Mel knew exactly where the conversation was headed, and was anxious to inform me that these extra shower faucets already existed. But as it turned out, Mel said that he could not, legally, listen to my idea until I had met with him and signed a letter of confidentiality, and discussed the details in person.

Mel specified that he was available between the hours of 11am and 7pm Monday thru Friday. His office was based in Bloomfield, NJ, and he would be sending me directions in the mail. Now, what time did I want to make an appointment?

“Whoa, whoa, stop right there!� I felt like saying. It was embarrassing enough to even be having this conversation, considering the triviality of my idea and the fact that Mel was assuming it was a cure for cancer. But there was no way I was missing work to haul ass to Bloomfield, NJ and talk to Mel about an idea that a) I’m not even sure already exists and b) if it doesn’t, who’s to say it’s even feasible? I asked Mel if he could just send me the agreement in the mail or something, and he actually laughed, saying, “If I were you, and I were discussing something as important as my idea, I wouldn’t trust anyone who said they would send something in the mail!� Boy am I stupid! Mel made me feel like this was the first time I was submitting an original idea with the hopes of getting it patented, which if course, it was.

Mel reiterated the fact that I had to meet with him personally to discuss the idea. He told me I was “very fortunate� to be provided with an hour of his time, which is apparently very valuable, for free. After all, I wouldn’t have to put down the $2,500 deposit to find a suitable manufacturer until after we decided if the idea was workable or not. Wow, what a deal! He then informed me that I should bring all of my sketches and blueprints and any other information pertaining to my idea, with me when we meet. “Who does this guy think I am, Thomas Edison?� I asked myself. If I were smart enough to think of idea that involved blueprints, Mel would be the last person I would talk to about it. I asked Mel if he could just listen to my idea and tell me if it already existed, and he said, “I’m available between the hours of 11am and 7pm Monday thru Friday.�

I told Mel I was a working man and could not find the time to meet with him during those hours. Mel let out another huge sigh, and said, “I just had heart surgery, okay? I can’t be dealing with this kind of stuff, alright? I feel I’m being very flexible here. Now, I’m available between the hours of 11am to 7pm Monday thru Friday – take or leave it!�

I wasn’t sure what heart surgery had to do with my idea, and I did not ponder the oxymoronic nature of set hours being flexible. But I knew that this would be my last conversation with Mel, the ISC “patent specialist�.

After an extensive online search, I eventually located a complete library of existing patents. My idea of adding liquid soap into the water stream is a concept already covered under Class 239, Section I of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, entitled Fluid Sprinkling, Spraying, and Diffusing.

I think I’m much more content knowing that my idea already exists than I would be excited if I were to have found out it didn’t, and be forced to do something about it. It’s kind of ironic that my idea was supposed to play on the laziness of people, but in the end, I would have been too lazy myself to even go through with making it.

It turns out I won’t become a millionaire from naturally soapy showers, although I am kind of confused as why I wasn’t taking a naturally soapy shower last night if my idea already exists. But at least I can say that I had an idea once, and did more than just sit on it.
I called Mel.

And told him to sit on it

Liquid Fantasy

This was written in June 2003, while I was hard at work at my previous job...

About two weeks ago, during the half an hour of May that it wasn't raining, I went outside and managed to get poison ivy. Unbeknownst to me, the worst thing you can do after contracting poison ivy is take a hot shower, which of course, is exactly what I did. Now I obviously didn't know I had poison ivy when I took the shower, so that advice is pretty much worthless. But whatever. I made it worse than it was and the ten days or so that I had it really, really sucked.

But all was not lost, because the poison ivy was a direct contributor to the greatest idea I've ever had, and ever will have.

One of the worst parts of having poison ivy, besides being repulsed by your very own self every second of the day and suffering insatiable itch attacks, is taking showers. It's difficult to wash yourself because you don't want to rub any part of your body with the disgusting yellow bubbles and spread the infectious devil warts elsewhere, especially to private places. So while in the shower one day, though a different shower than the one that got me in the predicament in the first place, a light bulb went on in my head, and I thankfully did not get electrocuted.

Here's my masterpiece: an additional faucet for the shower that, just like hot and cold water, releases liquid soap into the water stream! This way, you never have to waste precious time and energy, or risk spreading deadly plant oils, by rubbing your body in the shower. If it's time to shampoo your hair, or rinse yourself clean, just turn the knob off!

I surveyed several people about my idea, and most seemed genuinely impressed, or shocked at my creative genius. The most popular question involved how to actually to do this, and because I'm not a plumber, I'm not exactly sure how. But that's not my job. I just come up with the ideas and a designated idea initiator takes it from there. Besides, if they can make a solar-powered car, they can add another faucet to the shower.

Now I could take the environmental route, and stress how my idea inherently conserves water since each shower-taker should spend less time washing himself/herself, and thus spend less time in the shower. But in reality, besides preventing the spread of poison ivy, my idea plays upon the general laziness of people. If my idea does succeed, it will be because people realize they don't have to pick up the soap anymore. And furthermore, jailhouses across America will be safer for new inmates, as the chances of dropping said soap would be reduced drastically.

I was persuaded by a certain significant other, who is convinced we can live like kings on the legs of my idea, to officially submit it to a patent organization. So I called 877-963-IDEA, the Invention Submission Corporation, and gave them my info. I have actually seen their commercials before, which air during daytime TV., apparently targeting the creative audience that can’t figure out how to get a job. Their symbol is a cartoon caveman hammering a nail into a wheel, and their motto is “America’s Leading Inventor Service Company Since 1984�. Their major contributions to society thus far have been snap bracelets and SARS.

The ISC representative said that an official “patent specialist� will be contacting me within the week She did not ask what my idea was, which is good because she probably would have stolen it.

So now I have to wait and hear from a “patent specialist�, who will almost assuredly inform me upon hearing my idea, that the same idea was submitted ten years ago, and that several Beverly Hills homes have already installed additional faucets, which release liquid soap into the water stream. Then I’ll tell him to “kiss my ass� and hope he gets poison ivy.

But if the slim chance of my idea being not only original, but also doable, becomes a reality, I’ll be one happy guy. And one wealthy guy too. My friends will call me “General Patent� and I’ll spend all day taking soapy showers and watching commercials for the Invention Submission Corporation.

first title

this is my first post...bear with me