by Trey Nosrac
“Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are just produced.” – A.N. Whitehead
Driverless cars are around the corner. No sense bitching. Scientific advancements grind forward and leave the roadside littered with the carcasses of folks simply minding their own business. Due to technology, my Lyft job, like about half the jobs in the world, will soon be toast. In an effort to be proactive, I am sitting here planning my future in this crazy world.
For my next act, I may move into the invention business. Yeah, I know that inventing is a risky game and paychecks are often non-existent, but like W.C. Fields said, “A dead fish can float down a stream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.” The first invention on my launch pad may be of interest to some of you.
Once upon a time, in a desperate attempt to keep up with training bills, I jogged horses on the weekends. My qualifications were inflated, minimal and fabricated. Basically, I said, “Sure, I can do that.” I hopped onto a jog cart and headed out to make four fun-filled laps where mercifully no horses or human were maimed.
Should you ever try jogging harness horses, and I suggest that you do, you will discover that after a while you have a lot of time to meditate. Looking at the backside of a harness horse, listening to the clopping hoofs and smelling the smells is sort of Zen-like. In nice weather, my thoughts while jogging were always, “This is enjoyable and sort of therapeutic.” In the winter my thoughts were always, “What in the hell am I doing out here and please let me get back to the barn alive before the gelatinous parts of my eyeballs are frozen into marbles of ice.”
Horse trainers of my acquaintance seem to have personalities with a bit of masochism mixed together with stoicism. They battle the ridiculously harsh winters on jog carts and race bikes and shrug off 27 layers of clothing with pride. I am not a horse trainer. With immobile fingers clawing at frozen buckles, my thinking was that these winter horse people are insane.
Actually, during each miserable lap of winter jogging, the part of my mind that remained free of frostbite fixated on the invention that I would begin to work on… an enclosed jog cart. After an extensive 15-minute study of pictures on YouTube, this is the model that I will retrofit:
The mandatory new adaptations to this enclosed vehicle are two slits where the reins will be threaded through the front and two shafts that will be bolted to the chassis. The name will be the Trey Sleigh. The cost will be five grand, a tad costly, but you will be the envy of all your friends and it is less expensive than the cost of hospital treatment for hypothermia.
As you can see, this vehicle will offer much more protection from bone jarring arctic winds that the scarf Aunt Meg knitted that was always wrapped Red Baron-like around my second parka. If you approach this with an open mind, several positives will occur. A third wheel in the rear of the contraption will offer additional stability. Humans will have some protection from kicking and discharges of the animal. Falls and spills will be less harmful.
Not only do I swim upstream, my preference is to always go overboard.
As I gaze at this vehicle and imagine myself hitched to a horse going the endless winter miles that a harness race horse must log before attempting to race, I see a few additional adaptations that could make this a “must have” product — a heater, windshield wipers, Wi-Fi, a speedometer, a seat with a backrest and something that I desperately needed in my jogging days – an odometer (keeping track of laps traveled always gave me trouble).
Now imagine this. The temperature is 12 degrees, the track surface an ugly ooze, sleet pellets ricochet like shrapnel and you have two dozen horses that must get miles under their harness. Today you have a Trey Sleigh. You set the thermostat to 70, tune into soft rock on Sirius radio, maybe take a sandwich, place a cup of coffee in the handy cup holder and head out in your bubble of serenity. Not bad, huh?
For the time being, trainers and joggers will still need to hold the reins and pay attention to the horse they are hooked up to, but the boys in Silicon Valley are working feverishly to eliminate more jobs. It is only a matter of time until driverless jog carts hit the market.