Monday, October 30, 2006

I'm certain I'm missing something

On the rare occasions that I don't have a book with me, I love to read Skymall, the catalog you find on airplanes. Actually, I have a love / hate relationship with Skymall. I am never disappointed when it comes to the products I find it in: I can always find something that completely mystifies me.

The companies selling their goods and services in Skymall run from the very familiar, like The Sharper Image, to those you may have never heard of, like The Brightfeet Lighted Slippers company. You won't be surprised to learn they sell lighted slippers. So you can put them on and walk to the refrigerator in the dark at 3 am. The tiny lights on the front of your slippers shine a path for you. Once you step into them, they automatically light up if it's dark. And when you step out of them, they stay lit for a few seconds so you can safely get back into bed.

Our kids had light up slippers once. The lights lasted for about three weeks before growing ever weaker. I will tell you, however, that the ones they wore were definitely NOT from the Brightfeet Lighted Slippers company.

I usually try to find the most annoying product in the catalog and sometimes it's difficult to make that decision. Last weekend, on a trip back from Las Vegas, I had plenty of time to study the selections. I actually couldn't make a final decision so I had to settle for two products that tied for the most ridiculous and overated items in the catalog.

The first was a trash can that opened as a result of an electric-eye sensor. Because I can't top the copy that accompanied this product, I'll quote the sales pitch here: "Sure, a step on trash can is covenient, but how often do you get frustrated fumbling for the foot control? Free your feet and your frustrations with our stainless steel touchless trash can, a completely foot- and hands-free waste disposal system." I love that: "waste disposal system."

It goes on from there to explain the specifics but I couldn't help but think the following in my head: We have a step-on trash can in our kitchen and I don't believe I've ever missed the foot control - ever. It isn't really all that hard to find or operate. I can name three dozen things that frustrate me on a daily basis but finding the foot pedal on our trash can isn't one of them.

In a tie with the electronic trash can, I found the 'Breakfix Cereal Dispenser.' It's not that I'm opposed to a device that dispenses cereal - although it feels much like dog or cat food dispensers to me - I cringed at the copy that accompanied the product. "...fixing the day's first meal will never again be a messy, time consuming chore."

We're not talking about making eggs benedict here! We're not even talking about microwaving bacon strips. We're talking about 'fixing' a bowl of dry cereal!!!!! We have reached some kind of nadir as a society of thinking, breathing human beings when we can be sold a device with ad copy that calls pouring a bowl of cereal for our kids a "messy, time-consuming chore." If three seconds is time-comsuming, it's news to me.

I love the photo for this product. In the background, we see a young, attractive mom in jeans and a t-shirt, smiling gratefully at her young daughter who is holding what appears to be an empty ceral bowl. I imagine the daughter is saying this with her expression: "My mommy is so lame she can't even pour me a bowl of cereal. I think she resents having to put in such a time-consuming chore every morning to make sure I leave the house nourished and ready for my day. Look at her. You can just tell she'd rather be at the gym than caring for me. But that's okay. When she's ninety, I'll set up an automatic pill dispenser in her ratty little apartment and smile as I leave her when I visit three times a year."

Okay. Maybe she wasn't saying that. But she should be.

Talk soon -

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