19 September, 2008

Minor activism rewarded

It is such a little thing, really, but it is still rewarding to see something happen that I suggested.  It makes me feel a little less powerless in this world of big business in bed with corrupt politics.
I am often struck by little things that can make a product or an experience a little better.  I usually don’t do anything with them, though sometimes I do.  I like writing letters of gratitude and suggestion much better than the strongly worded letter of a disgruntled customer.  But I have had better responses from my negative letters than from my suggestions.
I thought of individually brewed coffee bags when I was in Desert Storm; colored car wax when I was shining my boots in Texas in the 80s; I thought of digital picture frames when no one thought it would ever not be cost prohibitive.  The things I think of are nothing new, just minor or different ways to use things that already exist.
It is why I like tweaking my computer so much.  Default values are for pussies.  Things can always be better, more personalized.
So when I think of things that will make my life easier but that I can’t do myself, I write a letter.  I wrote Lee Iacoca once asking for a variable manual transmission that could act like an automatic for the first few gears.  I love driving a stick, but being in stop and go traffic sucks, and wears on the clutch.  Lee never answered me.
But Kroger did.
You know how when you are shopping in th produce section all the fruit is kept looking fresh by an occasional burst of water from a sprinkler system?  I have always liked that, but I never liked the fact it happened without warning.  I don’t want my sleeve getting drenched because I happened to be reaching for a rutabaga
So, I wrote a letter to my supermarket, explaining my desire to have some sort of a warning system installed; just a little beep to let us know to keep hands an feet inside the cart for a short time.
Today when I was shopping I hear sounds of thunder, and I looked up.  It was a little speaker above the produce section; it also had a flashing light for those who might not hear so well.  And of course it was followed by the spritzer.
I am sure I am not the only one who might have thought of it.  There have been lots of ideas I have had that made it to market even though I never took action so, unless I want to think they are stealing my dreams at night, my little improvements are not so spectacular that I alone could think of them.
But it is nice to see them come to fruition, even if it is minor.
It is much nicer than when I look at a product and think, "Damn, I thought of that."

EDIT:   I am being told that most stores have been doing this for a long time.  Maybe where I shopped was just behind the times.  Like I said, I don’t figure my ideas are so brilliant that I am the only one to think of them.   And maybe the letter I wrote didn’t count at all.  But I still feel rewarded

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