Cannon: A free idea for would-be inventors
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Whenever I fly I like to check out the Sky Mall catalog to see what American inventors are inventing these days. These are a few of the more intriguing items I found on a recent trip to North Carolina.

The first was "Thundershirt," which (as far as I can tell) functions as a sort of straitjacket for nervous dogs and cats. It comes in three colors — heather gray, pink polo and blue polo — and a variety of sizes (seven sizes for dogs, three for cats). The manufacturer claims the product is already helping " hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats around the world," because apparently these are anxious times for the world's dogs and cats.

Frankly, I wouldn't mind giving the "Somawave Helmet" a try. I wish you could see the catalog picture — the "Somawave Helmet" (which uses three AAA batteries) looks like a metal fascinator, something a fashion-forward robot might wear to a royal wedding. It's supposed to help "release stress and tension" and produce "a state of euphoria" when you put it on. But buyer beware! The product comes with the following caution: "Do not wear while operating heavy machinery. The Somawave Helmet's euphoria-inducing waves may produce sleep or trance-like states of consciousness."

And in case you're experiencing a little baldness, there's always "Toppik," made of pure keratin (i.e., hair fiber), which you shake on your head and voila! "Thousands of color-matched hair fibers instantly blend with your existing hair. Magnetized with static electricity, they bond so securely that they will stay in place day and night even in wind, rain or perspiration."

So yeah. There's probably a place for products like these, especially if you are a stressed-out, balding person with a neurotic pet. But what I want is for someone to invent something that's really useful — such as a device that gives people a little electric shock if they don't get to the point right away.

Take what happened to me at Smith's Marketplace this morning. There was this lady in the checkout line who wanted to exchange two packages of sweet pea seeds. But instead of just saying to the clerk, "Hello, I need to exchange two packages of sweet pea seeds" and handing them over, she launched into a long and involved explanation about why she had in her possession two packages of seeds she didn't want.

"OK," she said to the clerk. "Here's what happened. I bought three blah, blah, blah packages of nasturtium seeds last Saturday. But when I got home I realized two of them were actually sweet blah, blah pea seeds. I guess they were accidentally hiding blah behind the nasturtium seed package blah, blah, which was on the top. I guess I should have blah, blah checked.

But anyway. It's not that I don't like sweet peas. I blah, blah LOVE them. But I don't have any luck with them, you know? I think you need to live in blah, blah, blah Midway to grow sweet peas successfully. So the point is this: Can I exchange them for blah, blah nasturtiums? Because that's what I meant to blah blah buy in the blah first place. Blah blah nasturiums.

Meanwhile, everybody in the line was gnashing their teeth and tearing out their hair (good thing somebody already invented Toppik) and sending the crazy talking lady silent hostile brain waves saying, WHY COULDN'T YOU GET TO THE POINT FIVE MINUTES AGO? Which she totally would have if someone had given her a little electric shock to remind her that sales clerks don't really care about the backstory.

How do I know this?

Because the crazy talking lady with the nasturtium seeds this morning was me. And for sure I would have gotten to the point sooner if a fellow customer had used a Taser on me.

So please, inventors of America. Get busy. Create a device that keeps me from explaining myself unnecessarily, and send it to me quick.

Thank you.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/anncannontrib.