Done Right, A Good Idea Can Be Worth…
But if you smell a rat…
‘Hon, if there was a better way to organize all my pills, I’d be a happy camper.
I swear, it doesn’t matter how I try to track the day, you know, that I took today’s pill. The damn thing still trips me up. I bet I’ve overdosed a hundred times.’ I couldn’t blame anyone else for the crap I found myself in, so why not my pill counter?
‘Oh, stop your whining, Ned.’ Emma chuckled. ‘Haven’t you noticed that no matter how nice the day is, you find a way to muck it up? Damn it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just got paid, or you told that guy off at the Walmart’s, whatever, you have to come out swinging for Christ’s sake, man. Chill already, won’t you?’
Sure, Emma was right, always had been right. No matter what was going on with my life, I had to find the less rosy side to things. Hell, I couldn’t help it. Maybe that’s why I was always trying to come up with better ideas. I had to be this way to feel sort of good about stuff. It’s near impossible to explain.
But the pill counter was serious, and I know I was in the right.
‘Hey Emma. What if some child takes pills, you know, there are kids who have some serious illnesses and are on a list of pills. You don’t wanna go poisoning a kid. That’s exactly what can happen. At least I know that somehow, I’ve lost track of today’s pill. I can’t guess how often I go to my pill box only to find I’ve already taken a damn pill.
Or have I?’
That’s the issue here. I thought to myself. I could invent something that resets a lock on the pill top so that if I’ve taken out a pill within the last twelve hours it locks down. This would make it really idiot proof.
‘Hell. Just think how many kids it would save with that kind of self-locking pill box. You take out a pill and the things lock down for twelve hours when you take another. Or the lock down thing can be set for however many hours you need to go by before you’re due the next pill.’
Brilliant, I thought. I could make millions even though I’m past seventy. I’d need to find a loaded backer to pay designer people to design the pill holder and the timer and the lock mechanism. One things for sure though. That whoever is brought on to help me in my design that they don’t go stealing my million-dollar idea! How the hell would I prevent that from happening?
I already had my answer.
‘Hi Jack, your ever-loving bro here. Yep. Um, hey I’ve got a good one for you Jack. I had a brilliant idea. Have you ever had trouble remembering what pill to take today? I’m sure you’ve had those senior moments where you just can’t be sure you already didn’t take that oil or drops or pill, even though it’s in the Tuesday slot.
But you swear you took it. Then you’re scared as hell to take it, thinking maybe you’re going to double dose yourself. Make yourself sick as a dog if you double dose. Right? Yep, yep, hold on, just a sec, so, yeah, oh? You have to go? So, you can’t hear me out right now? Oh, okay bro, I’ll catch you later on then.’
Last thing Jack said before hanging up was ’Hey Ned, hang onto your idea, I want to hear about it later on, okay?’
‘Well, that didn’t really go too well, Emma. Jack was on his way to the country club; said he was accepting a reward for rebuilding their shuffleboard. But I’d swear he didn’t sound too keen. Like he knew something was up.’
‘Well of course Ned, Jack remembers the last time he gave you those twenty grand for your suitcase idea, can you hardly blame him?’ Emma cracked up with that merciless cackle she had, which she reserved only for me. Made me feel about yay tall too.
I’d used the twenty to pay some smart engineer guy to design the suitcase idea, but after the money was gone, the man said he tried his best. Not a whole lot for me to do.
‘Well, for your info Emma, that guy from New York stole my idea and now he’s sitting in his mansion somewhere on that Italian lake all because of my ‘dumb’ suitcase idea.’ A man had to stand firm in the face of unfair ridicule. Damn thing was that you couldn’t go to the airport and not see my idea, battery powered rollers for suitcases. All over the place!
Rich little old ladies were hauling five-hundred-pound bags like it was nothing. That was my invention. How the hell did that New York sob get my idea, anyway?
‘Look Ned, no point in getting yourself all worked up with your heart. Did you take all your pills today?’
That’s what I’m saying, see? My daily pill routine is complicated. I’m taking eight or ten, depending on the weekday, and the doses change almost with every pill. There’s the one where it’s just half a pill in the am and half another in the pm. Then there’s others that it’s one pill, another that’s three, the one where I have to take seven. Then there’s the eye drop, one which is four drops three times in a day.
There’s that one damn pill that’s half first, then later on the second half and I have to use my pill cutter to slice it in two. I call it my pill guillotine. Get it? That one month I was sick all month because I was chopping up that one pill which wasn’t supposed to be cut, a long-term release pill.
By cutting it in half, I destroyed the protective cover, which normally would let out the medicine a little at a time all day long. Cutting it opened it up, and it released in minutes in my gut.
No wonder I was running around like a stuck pig all month long! Felt like I was dragging a bag of rocks behind me! My doc told me I was buying the right pill but the wrong version.
Too damned complicated, if you ask me. Think about the old folk out there who can barely remember left from right trying to sort out all their meds.
That missionary friend of mine who almost died on a mission trip to Africa because she confused her meds. Overdosed and had to get pumped out and they contaminated her adenoids. While she was laid up in the African hospital, she picked up an Ebola variant. Almost died. She could’ve avoided that with my pill tracker.
That’s what I’m gonna call it, The Pill Tracker!
Jack called me several hours later that day, around five. Sun was getting ready to set.
‘Okay, so Ned, what have you got? I haven’t forgotten the twenty I loaned you last time, you know. I want to help you, but you understand me when I say I can’t be handing out cash left and right.’
My little bro Jack got his big break around the time I told him about an idea of mine to sell aluminum anodized bumpers. Now that I think about it, that was one of those serendipitous moments, you know? Like a year after our conversation, Jack came out with hub caps, anodized, aluminum, all colors of the rainbow.
Sure, I noticed that seemed a little close to my idea, but he assured me he’d been thinking about that for a long time before I mentioned the bumpers to him.
For an entire year, there probably wasn’t one car on the planet that didn’t have Jack’s hub caps in one of many colors or shapes.
For Christmas that year Jack gave me and Emma a coupon for ten grand, ten big ones to spend the week not quite in Tampa, in the off season, oh hell we didn’t care, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were that I had a brother like Jack! As part of the ten, he even included three days we could spend in Safari Wilderness next to the Everglades!
We saw real Seminoles fight alligators. Unfortunately, one of the alligators had to be carried off because it stopped moving.
Before long, Jack had moved to Marthas Vineyard, along with his family.
After an hour-long conversation, I felt Jack had a good handle on my concept. He’s smart that way, always has been. He seemed to like the idea, too. Jack said he’d be vacationing to Lake Como in Italy next week, just him and his sweet wife Nella, a sort of getaway. He liked to rent an Airbnb over there.
It was right after he mentioned Italy that a little bell went off in my head. Italy was where that New York guy who stole my last idea now lived.
‘Oh, don’t be foolish Ned, there you go now. Last thing you need to do is get your head all up and bothered about stuff you have no way of proving. Jacks got a million more important things to do. Are you forgetting that if it weren’t for your younger brother, we still wouldn’t have that roof repaired?’
‘Yep, how foolish of me, hon. Okay, so Jack said he’d get back to me next week. I’d swear he liked the pill tracker idea.’
‘Sorry Ned. Apparently, someone else has almost the same exact idea. You had a good idea, but we’d be behind the eight ball because someone else is about to come out with the idea. I spoke with some people at Walmart's in their New York office, and they said they had already placed mass orders for a similar product coming out. I’m afraid that kills it dead in the water.’
And that was that.
‘Yeah, no kidding, Ned. Damn. Okay, bro. Hey you coming over with Nella next Sunday, got your favorite Austrian sausage to grill and pan-fried Brussel sprouts with parmesan; catch the season opener! Go Pack!’
I was at the CVS to pick up some bunion balm and heel scraper for Emma. Her bunions were getting about as big as golf balls! Wandering down the OTC aisle, there was the pill counter section and, sure enough, there was a new product.
Damned if it wasn’t just like my idea.
Sure, it had some differences, like too many, which made it highly unlikely it was my idea. Instead of top opening to get at the pills, they were side paneled. Pretty smart, actually. Somehow, they were able to build in a small enough motor and lock system that was barely noticeable.
Proctor and Gamble! Damn. Big name. Pretty soon it was being advertised non-stop on tv. I bought several for me and Emma.
Damn those P&G people, smart whippersnappers.
The following Christmas, Jack surprised us with an all-paid trip to the north coast of Honduras. Trip included a boat trip to a touristy island called Utilla.
Count me lucky, hey?
An off-season storm rolled through leaving a humid heaviness in the air, water dripped off the thatch forming little pockets in the sand around the hut.
Emma and I were lying in hammocks which had holes in them which made it handy for swinging with our feet. Three pigs were rooting around us waiting for scraps, adorable little guys until one of them bit me, no real harm though. I’m practicing Buddhism so I know how to deal with such things equanimously.
‘Emma, I ordered you another Mai Tai. Hey, I have an idea on how to completely change how those underwater flippers work. You know the ones the divers use? The sun will power the…’
‘Ned, can you tell them to hurry with my Mai Tai, and where’s my grilled cheese sandwich?’
Damn, she just sort of cut me off. Maybe it’s time for a nap.