Thursday, March 19, 2009
See, it's cleverly hidden and attractive!
If your house is anything like mine, you have a plethora (that means "a lot", not "fake leather" as my friend Barb thought) of electronic cord chargers all over the place. Every cell-phone, ipod, and digital camera has at least one charging cord and in a family with two adults and two teenagers that adds up quickly unless you are "urban Amish" like my friend Lisa who still listens to music on something called a "radio" and takes pictures with a film camera from last century.
Keeping these cords organized and out of sight is apparently impossible. They appear everywhere, multiplying mysteriously, and often after everyone has left for the morning I find them plugged into different outlets around the kitchen, still smoking from the charging they did all night long.
I tried to wrangle them a little. I designated an entire drawer in my kitchen to these gadgets but before long the drawer became an unusable tangled mass of cords, and no one was bothering to put them back there anyway. This was making me a little crazy but I accepted the challenge. My goal is to organize things in a manner that is so logical even my slob children can get with the program (which is why I had a laundry basket in the play room for years to catch the socks they liked to whip off, though come to think of it, it was usually empty with socks laying all around it).
So for a few months I've been trying to come up with a plan to organize the chargers that would be so easy and convenient that even my kids could use it and not leave cords around constantly. (At this point several of you will say, My God she needs to get a life, to which I'll say, I have one thank you and it, by design, allows me to ponder such trivia, oh please as if you use your free time so constructively with your Facebook!) I don't mean I spent hours on it, I just mean I kept my eyes out for a clever system that surely someone else has invented to organize these cords. It could be called the "Cord Wrangler" or the "Cord-anizer" or something.
Anyhoo, one day while I was at Staples, realizing again that no one has invented such a thing, I decided to design my own system. So I bought a power strip that had enough outlets on it to accommodate all our chargers. I took it home and picked a seldom-used corner of my family room and plugged the power strip into the wall. I then hid it behind a piece of furniture and slipped the charge couplings out in a cleverly semi-hidden fashion so that all my family had to do was walk over to this thing and plug their phone or i-pod or whatever into it. It was hidden enough that you did not even have to put anything away, I could leave it out all the time.
Unveiling it to them, the natural marketer in me took over. "Hey look. I've simplified your life by installing this new thing. I call it the 'Charging Station'!" I stood in the corner, doing my best Carol Merril impersonation, showing the features of the Charging Station and explaining how it was going to vastly improve the quality of their lives. "It's nice over here. I think I'll start serving snacks and it could be a hangout!"
My spouse and offspring dutifully plugged their devices in at the Charging Station, smiled, and congratulated me for my cleverness. For the first few days all went well. No one misplaced a vital electronic device and I did not have to coil up any cords laying about. The Charging Station was revolutionizing our lives and it was good.
The bliss did not last long. By the third day I had a defector.
"Hey," I said lifting up the phone charger that had found its way back on to the kitchen counter, "Who's not using the Charging Station!"
Everyone looked shocked and innocent but it was easy enough to figure out which phone fit into the cord like Cinderella's slipper. Knowing the jig was up, Grace confessed. She didn't like it because, get this, she had to be away from her phone for too long if it was WAY over in the corner.
For a while I tried to entice her back to the Charging Station. "You know, we're serving espresso and biscotti over here in the Charging Station." I'd say from the corner.
"No thanks," she answered, maniacally texting while her phone was plugged into the kitchen outlet.
The next day I tried again. "Hey Atticus," I said as I found him fetching his phone ever so conveniently from the designated area, "What's going on at the Charging Station today?"
"We're having live jazz and smoothies over here," he answered. Grace smiled but she was not coming back to the Charging Station.
After that it was only a matter of time before my brilliant idea was completely discarded. I found Atticus's phone plugged in to the kitchen outlet too the next day. "HEY! What about our special place?" I tried one last time.
"Umm, it wasn't working, I needed to text some friends while it was charging."
Lilly, the baby and appeaser tried to make me feel better. "Hey, Mommy, I still use it! Look, I'm going over there right now to try the sundae bar!" But she's just throwing me a bone. She doesn't even have anything to charge yet and really it just looks silly to find a plastic horse with a USB up its butt.
So now it's just me using the Charging Station (and Lilly's horse) which really doesn't make it a station at all. More like a Charging Portal or, if you want to put a fine point on it, a cord plugged into the wall. The magic of the Charging Station is gone because it's boring to be standing at the station by yourself even if you are virtually serving themed martinis next to a make-believe piano-bar.
So there you have it. You can invent a special charging place and even offer faux food and entertainment but unless they can text from it, no one will come.