There Should Be A Pneumatic Tube In Grocery Stores For Returning Something You've Changed Your Mind About Buying
I was struck by this warning about possibly-still-good but nonetheless discarded grocery store meat because it rang immediately and painfully true. I’ve done this. I don’t think with perishables, but more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve changed my mind about buying something at the store and just left it on the nearest shelf rather than retrace my steps to an earlier aisle. I don’t think I’ve done it in the last five years or more, but I’ve done it.
There should be a tube in grocery stores. Like the kind they had on The Jetsons and sometimes in real life, for returning things without having to double back. Oh, we should just double back, but we don’t always, and it’s better to live in the land of the real, always.
One big clear pneumatic tube, with an opening near every end cap. “FOR WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND,” the sign should read. “RETURN HERE.” So you can stash whatever you changed your mind about, press a button and watch it sail back to the deli aisle, or wherever it is that it’s supposed to go. I don’t think it would make the biggest difference when it comes to combating food waste, but it would probably help a little, and I think everyone would really enjoy getting to use pneumatic tubes a little bit more often. I always liked it when I found a drive-through ATM with pneumatic tubes, although it’s been a few years since that’s happened to me too.
The Aberdeen Fish Market used to be connected to the local telegraph office by a pneumatic tube, although it seems like this was only used for messages, not for the fish itself, which is a little disappointing, I think. People like pneumatic tubes. People like pneumatic tubes probably as much as they like leaving items they changed their minds about on the wrong shelf. It would be nice to walk through the grocery store and occasionally see a tub of yogurt shunted swiftly over your head, or hear the sudden thwunk-wap of a cast-off, shrink-wrapped steak as it returns to its refrigerated compartment. Maybe it would be the first step back in the direction of the monorail. Maybe it wouldn’t change anything. But it would be a nice little tube, and if nothing else, it would make working at the grocery store a little bit easier, and it would make shopping at the grocery store a little bit more fun. I guess maybe somebody would have to clean out the tube every once in a while, and that might not be so much fun, but you could probably build a tube that came apart pretty easy, or maybe clean it out with compressed air, like the kind you’re supposed to use on your keyboards and can also use as a dangerous drug.
This doesn’t have to have anything to do with the Tesla tunnel, by the way. Just don’t mention it, and it won’t come up. This is its own thing. It’s the same mechanism that powers a player piano, incidentally. Anyhow, I hope you’ll consider it.
...I may have, MANY times during law school, when I lived up many flights of stairs in a forlornly elevator-free apartment complex and the Circle K was at the bottom of a hill two blocks away that was often impractical or impossible for me to walk down (disability! what a concept) and thus required Getting In The Car and All Those Stairs and God It's Hot/Cold/Raining, bemoaned that the universe would not provide me with a pneumatic tube for the delivery of soda, cigarettes, and assorted sundries directly to my apartment from said Circle K. This was before Postmates or Doordash existed, or perhaps only before they were available in our small, poverty-stricken city, but I maintain I would still love one now that I have my own house in the same city a similar distance from the corner store but at least mercifully without multiple flights of stairs. My pharmacy and bank still have the tubes, and I regret we will not likely be seeing them in the Kroger/Aldi/Costco trifecta, but I'm certainly in favor of your proposal and have subscribed to your newsletter. Best, popelizbet.
Has the Salmon Cannon not been brought to your attention previously? https://twitter.com/cheddar/status/1159076692691955712