This fall the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded jointly to a couple scientists “for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.” The press release from the Nobel Committee hailed their invention of the blue-light emitting diode — LED lights.
But can someone solve problems that matter? I mean my problems. I don’t care about physics. I care about me. And I’ve got a problem. And it’s probably your problem too.
Follow me for a minute. A long time ago cars were used to get from point A to point B. They were steel hulls with vinyl seats and functioned as wind tunnels on wheels. The less time spent in one, the better.
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For me, family road trips demanded innovative means of entertainment like pretending to flick boogers at my siblings. I was a master at other antics unworthy of a family newspaper. But one thing was very true — you never misplaced anything in the car. In part because in the ‘60s you didn’t collect stuff. And also because those things you did possess were big — baseball bats and fishing poles, for instance. Smaller items like coins rolled to the bottom of the back seat floor.
Car seats were heated, correction, baked, the old-fashioned way — by the sun.
Today the average American spends an average of an hour and half every day in their cars. In a lifetime you will drive a distance equal to the moon and back three times. So naturally cars are basically homes. We eat in them. People conduct business in them; they text, surf and Skype in them. While driving and working the GPS.
Now cars have Wifi so people won’t need to go to McDonald’s to use their Internet. I see where Honda sells cars with a built-in vacuum that runs off the car’s electrical system. It’s called The HondaVac.
And we do something else in them. Lose stuff. Wallets, boarding passes, turnpike tickets. Chuck E. Cheese’s tokens, bills, eyeglasses, contacts and phones. Cars have compartments and pockets where you place things and then find them three years later. But nothing is worse than stuff falling between the seats. I’m so sick and tired of important things falling between the seats and then disappearing for years. This wasn’t a problem with bag phones. But now phones are sleeker and disappear into thin air. The space between the seats how has more wires than most computers, and they swirl around ready to entangle your iPhone like an Octopus.
Even when you see it, you can’t reach it. It’s like retrieving a toy with the bowling alley Claw Crane.
Experts tell us a cellphone is lost every 3.5 seconds. I also read where the average person spends 10 minutes every day looking for misplaced items. So driving, losing phones and then trying to find them equates to half our lives.
Someone made a meek attempt at solving this problem. It’s called a Drop Stop. It’s a device that closes the cracks between the seats. The website claims it’s been promoted on The View and Oprah. But I don’t like this idea. Some things you actually want to disappear between the seats. French fries and chicken nuggets, for example.
In a moment of inspiration, I developed my own Nobel Prize-worthy idea. Cars should have plugs at the bottom of the floor that you pop open to drain everything. Like a boat, which is fitting since most cars resemble yachts these days. Those items that won’t roll to the lowest place? You could capture them with a hose that connects with the plug that sucks everything into loose in a bag. Then you can tie it up and drop it in your trunk where it will sit for years while you text and drive all over town.
I’ll call it the trash stash.
So look for me in Stockholm. I can’t wait to talk to those other winners about our Christmas lights.
Freelance columnist Matthew Keenan writes on the first and third Wednesday of the month. His book “Call Me Dad, Not Dude, the sequel” is sold at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Visit his blog at matthewkeenan.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.