July 28, 2008

Literary Product Reviews - LitterMaid

"I've got an idea for a new invention!" said the short gentleman. He had the pale skin of someone who didn't leave the house much. And not for something even marginally cool as addiction to PlayStation.

"Everyone hates cleaning the litter box," the man said, not waiting for the sarcastic response I had just thought of. As a service, I try to think up new ones for each customer. Personal touch and all.

"This is the LitterMaid!" He even spoke the name in bold lettering. "Every few hours, this motorized arm will come out and scoop the... stuff.. in the litter box into this receptacle on the end, leaving the box clean! Then all the owners need to do is empty the receptacle bin once a week or so."

For a man who builds cat toilets, he was unusually uneasy about saying the excrement-related words. But I had to admit, it was a good idea. Margie had one of those white over-haired cats that James Bond villains have a penchant for. "Fluffles." Thing hated me and it was mutual. He gets to sit around all day, eat and sleep, and I had to clean out his shitbox. Pleasantly imagining less time inhaling cat ass, this idea was striking a chord with me.

We looked over the papers together. It would retail around $100, be available at all the pet stores and WalMarts, good. But it was too simple. We'd never make money on it if it was a one-time sell. The shut-in guy said we could sell disposable replacement plastic receptacles, but most people would probably just empty them and put them back to save money. I needed to add a design flaw, so the thing would break. Not right away, or it would be perceived as cheap. But having it fail slowly, after months of getting used to the convenience of it...

I looked over the schematics and had a thought. "Look, what if we put the motorized arm in the BACK of the litter box instead?" Mr. Pale just looked at me and blinked. "Sir, cats use the back of the litter box about 80% of the time. If the motorized arm started there, it would cause a jam almost immediately. Sure, my design allows for some reversing when it comes in contact with an immovable... mass... but Litter boxes are often in garages or out-of-the-way areas where people won't hear the process, and it'll be left to grind away for hours, maybe even days! Over time, maybe 12 months or so, the motor could burn itself out due to stress."

Smiles didn't often cross my face. It was a novel feeling.

Whitey didn't understand, and kept going. "I had a configuration like that in my early designs, but the motor burnout caused me to change it. That and the constant NOISE of that thing grinding to a halt every hour or so. Nearly drove me mad. That's why I changed the design to what you see here."

I shoved his plans back across the table. "Move the motor to the back. And add some useless bit of electronics on it to add some cost. Like some minuscule fan on the arm. Call it.. dunno, an 'Ionic Air Cleaner' or something. Something to make a Deluxe model so we can jack the price up $20. Then we'll have a deal, Mr. ..." I extended my hand, and realized that I still didn't know the guy's name.

"Casper," he said with the tiredness of a tour guide at the end of a long week. "Casper Fluffles."

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