Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Modest Proposal

I took Kubota and one of his friends to the Eaton County Fair.  They watched the Moto-cross.  I walked around, looked at the animal exhibits and people watched. I ate too much fair food.  The beef burritoes at Willie's Taco House were killer.

Just for the record, high fashion in Charlotte, Michigan involves platinum blondes walking around in cowboy boots,  42 inches of tanned legs, blue jean shorts short enough to pass for lingerie and fit like yoga pants.  The tops varied greatly but the most common were very well washed, limp, dark tee shirts that draped like a second skin.

One the way home we stopped at McDonalds because the young guys did not want to eat fair food!  They went in.  I waited in the car.

I heard a guy hollering, "Hey, lady.  Can you help me up this hill?"  I popped up the recliner up and looked around.  There was a guy in a motorized wheelchair stalled out on the "handicapper accessible" ramp.  It is not much of a "hill".

I hopped out of the Cavalier and pushed him up the ramp.  He had also been at the fair and his battery was not up to the task of motoring across the metropolis of Charlotte twice and scooting around the fair all day.

His plan was to buy something from the dollar menu and plug in long enough to put enough juice into the battery to make it back home.

Horse troughs

Horse trough from Roman times

Cities have a long tradition of providing water to horses.  Horses cannot water themselves.  Horses were fundamental to the economy of towns and everybody benefited.  Cities were able to access resources from a larger radius of surrounding countryside.  Farmers, foresters and miners were able to command higher prices for their goods.

Eaton Rapids, Michigan: Low basin on left for dogs and horses.  High basin on right for humans.  Low basin planted with flowers but could be reactivated.

I have filled my water bottle at this fountain more than once.  Fountain runs continuously from April until October.

The new fountain.  Last year the basins were filled with soil and planted with flowers because vandals took great delight in adding dish detergent and food coloring to the water.  Vast amounts of green water and white foam resulted.  The bottom basin is optimal for child wading and dog/horse drinking.  Three inch deep basin poses little drowning risk to even the tipsiest toddler.

I see no difference between having discretely placed power outlets in a few, select downtown locations just like towns used to have horse troughs in the public square.

Now I just have to figure out who to pitch the idea to.  Personally, I am leaning toward doing a sell-job on the downtown Charlotte CVS pharmacy.  They are locked in head-to-head competition with Walmart and need to exploit every competitive advantage.  Electricity runs about 12 cents a KW-h...basically dirt cheap.  Surely a quarter's worth of electricity in a time of dire need is worth a bushel of good will.


  1. Makes sense to me. I've always wondered why normal passenger vehicles don't come equipped with a 120v outlet. There's plenty of power under the hood to pull a small generator, and think of the convenience of having an outlet to run a drill or other appliance while you're away from home. For that matter, a simple 120v outlet in that guy's car could charge his battery while he drove himself to his next errand.

  2. That would make sense, and probably be greatly appreciated...

  3. Hello Pawpaw and Old NFO:

    I drilled through the CVS website and found an email portal. I asked them if there was already a policy in place that might benefit from a little bit of ERJ publicity. To my surprise I got a real, as opposed to canned, response:

    "Hello Joseph,
    Thank you for contacting CVS Customer relations with your question regarding emergency charges for the handicapped. I don't see that we have a specific policy about that. I think it is something that for now would have to be addressed store by store. If a store has an available outlet in a space accessible to someone in a wheelchair I think the store manager would allow someone in dire need to recharge their chair. I do think your suggestion is in line with CVS's philosophy of helping people, so I am going to share your suggestion to see if we can develop some sort of program to assist those in need of a charge. Thank you for the suggestion."

    My perception is that mid-sized drugstores (Rite-aid, CVS, Walgreens, etc) have over saturated many markets. Any advantage that funnels a few more customers...especially customers who are likely to be large consumers of healthcare products...into their door could tip the other guy into attrition.

    These mid-sized drug stores are sprinkled all over the place and are almost ideal for this purpose. It is an elegant solution when a natural-and-logical owner for an issue can be found in the private sector and they step-up because they see it will benefit their business.

    Again, thanks for reading and thanks for writing.