Oh pot scrubber, my hero.

Lately I have noticed a correlation between the amount of “green” discussions taking place and the amount of people I see standing at the bus stops.  Maybe it’s just me… or maybe it’s just the price of gas.  But they are there.  Standing, looking longingly towards traffic.  Waiting patiently for the whale to swing by and swallow them only to be delivered to a distant concrete shore with their dangling backpacks and briefcases still in tow.

bus.jpg

 

typical.jpg

(typical bus stop, no protection for user but used so often there is a spot warn out in the turf)

As a designer, this scenario has always struck me as an unmet need for which I should be able to provide a solution.  I’ve consumed many an otherwise uneventful commute contemplating ways to create a fold out shelter or perch for these individuals to rely on as relief from foul weather or tardy rides.  One that could withstand the trials of vandalism and be affordable to even the most destitute municipalities.

But this week, another thought chased the previous ones around third base and across home plate.  In these days of all things green, it strikes me that bus riders are one of many unsung heros.  Attempting to minimize a carbon footprint might not be the reason they are there, but regardless, we should be inspired by the gesture.  I feel compelled somehow to commemorate the act by sponsoring a national bus riders week.  In reality, I suspect the best I can do is discuss it on a blog.

This concept extrapolated is an entertaining thought path.  A list of other behind the scene heros can include people you don’t often (or ever) think of, yet have influenced the events of your life.  The engineers who came up with the remote garage door opener, or the ATM machine.  The street light programmer or the Witchita line-man.  Just for the fun of it, let’s throw in a few inanimate objects too.  Such as the infamous steel-belt radial, what a thankless job that must be.  After a life of jarring through pot holes you’re retired to the snout of a tug boat and slammed into barges all day.  One of my favorite, but now vintage ads features a series of real life dramas for Subaru drivers.  It shows an elderly couple arguing and engaged in a car door slamming contest, a guy backing over a garbage can, and a father teaching his daughter to drive a clutched car.

When the right mood strikes, a song that scratches the itch is Willy Nelson’s “My Heros Have Always Been Cowboys”.  That sounds a lot more romantic than “My Heros Have Always Been Charge Cards”.

With all this in mind, the question is what places in your home have played the supporting role?  Not that we need to highlight details like the threshold to your back door, but if we don’t give thought to the importance of all of the elements in the collage, then we have made ourselves susceptible to a proverbial stone in the shoe.

If we plan a city without thinking through where the landfill goes, we end up with a nightmare.  If we plan an office without thought to where the power cords go, the result is unresolved.  If we design a closet solution without thought to where the dirty clothes reside, we have failed.

As hurried as we are to create things for people, I encourage you to slow down and think through the whole process.  Make sure you not only see the performance, but give credence to the gaffer’s rigging the lights and the crew that muscled in the piano.  It’s one thing to create a nice place for a collection of evening gowns, but equally nice to find a vacant hook at the perfect spot as you peel off your bathrobe at the end of a long, exhausting day.

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6 thoughts on “Oh pot scrubber, my hero.

  1. You might be right… I’m not sure, I’ll do some more research. That would explain why I couldn’t find it on YouTube. It’s interesting that we still remember the images and the message after all these years, but the brand is a bit blurry.

    Thanks for the comment… stop back soon and often!

  2. Your title instantly brought to mind Brother Laurence, a saint of small things done well and lovingly. He is famous for washing the bottoms of the wooden trenchers used as plates at his monastery, when no one else thought the undersides mattered. He was a scrubber of pots.

    Walt Whitman would join you in an ode to the unnoticed yet well done and important work, and workers.

    Please keep thinking about better bus shelters.

  3. Irene I don’t know how you manage to tap into information like the “Brother Laurence” reference. You are amazing. It has been suggested to me that I would find great value in reading more Withman. Will do.

  4. Beautifully said … so many unsung heroes in a world obsessed with celebrities. I think we’re all feeling the “heat”- from the high temperatures during the Chicago marathon, to the typhoons and flooding in the oddest of places.

  5. If I arrange a place for everything and everything in its place, the serenity lasts only until I buy the next book or receive the next mail delivery. So I expect some chaotic surfaces. I bought a beautiful basket and put all my little table odds and ends into it. Yet some things must stay out because I need them so often, or because I forget all about them if I put them away.

    Everyone’s life changes. The books and objects usually remain, like strata. What do you call designing for the unexpected, or for growth and change in the lives of people who live in a house? I think people often get another house, just as hermit crabs discard an outgrown shell. Or they live increasingly cramped.

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