Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Mr. President, I'm sorry, We're doomed.

I must admit I find your speeches uplifting and inspiring right up until you got to the part about it being American ingenuity that will lift us out of this crises, just like it always has. It was at that moment, I knew we were doomed. Rome collapsed slower than we will. Allow me to explain.
A few weeks ago, in an effort to save money, I ordered some Diabetic socks from a small merchant on EBAY. Now, the top of the line socks for those of us with swelling ankles are Dr. Scholls but they are really expensive and really soft. So, I bit the bullet and got a cheaper brand.
When they arrived the first thing I noticed was they are not as soft but that is why they make fabric softener. I decided to try the first pair. Please note the label in huge letters said: Diabetic Socks: nonbinding. By the end of the day they had proven that was not the case. I could have, as I guarantee as I used to sell on EBAY, done what 99% of the people would do. I could have cussed the merchant out, thought they are just selling a product they have been guaranteed by a manufacturer is what it says it is. I could have demanded my money back even though by opening the package I had rendered them unsaleable, but what should I care? I could have left bad feedback and filed a complaint with PayPal and done my best to ruin a small business.
Instead I decided I could afford the loss of money and would just toss them in the Cooperative Feeding Bank's clothing box and maybe a really skinny diabetic could wear them.
However, after turning the sock over and over in my hands I became curious. The top was nonbinding but why was my ankle marked? I put the sock on and checked to see where the binding line was on my ankle. It was a full 1.5 inches below the top. I took the sock off and turned it inside out to see what was in that location and that was when I found the manufacturing mistake. The real top of the sock was turned inward and stitched with what should have been a nonbinding elastic. So, I took out my scissors, cut the offending thread out and now I have a dozen pair of nice, nonbinding socks with a little longer cuff.
How many people would think to find out why the sock didn't work? That, dear sir, is why we are doomed. We no longer have the curiosity that fires innovation. We expect someone to protect us, take care of us and everything to be perfect when it arrives at  our doorstep: our products, our children and our mates and if they aren't, surely someone else should pay for that mistake.
We have furnished the outside area of our store with tables and chairs off the big pickup garbage piles. I joke that if I think we need it, I will find it within two weeks thrown out. I am traveling in a 2 by 3 block area! Our dumps over flow and no one stops to think of fixing anything. It's buy, buy, buy and then our economy and jobs have to fuel that buy with credit and more credit. Innovation? A thrown out grass handler for a lawn mower is making two beautiful tree pots. I can't find a matching black pot for the front: spray paint and a cheap plastic one works well. The poles from someone's fence came complete with pot hangers on them and the birds are enjoying the bird feeder hanging from them. They will support a hydroponic hybrid garden shortly.
And so it continues, but I am sooo in the minority. I am from another time when parents told stories of the Great Depression, we repaired our shoes, my mother sewed my clothes and nothing ever hit the garbage can until we were certain it had no other use. Ah, but if I did not live in the county rather than a city this would all be moot because zoning laws do not permit innovation. You have to pick your house color based on what is allowed, have x number of trees, shrubs and square footage of grass in your yard. Even in a severe draught, you MUST have GRASS. Don't bother trying to save electricity and thus oil by hanging your clothes outside. Clothes lines are forbidden. Your fence must be so high and of x variety if you are allowed one. You can only park a certain kind of vehicle in the driveway. You must be like your neighbor. You must exist solely for your neighbors' visual enjoyment. If innovation is the key, we are so very, very doomed.... Innovation has been legislated out of existence.

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