Unbundles of Joy
The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman
by Trey Nosrac
Leonard Platt, with his long gray beard and black-rimmed transition sunglasses, could easily impersonate a member of ZZ Top. Leonard owns and operates the Sit and Spin Laundromat on the outer edge of the city of Mansfield. He is a stickler for neatness and rules. He also is a bit of a guru. As the dryers tumble, he offers advice to his customers, of which I am one.
Rarely is the word appealing an adjective for the interior of a laundromat, but Leonard pulls it off. Instead of rows of plastic seats with welded together metal legs, he has 15 canvas chairs, nice ones, with armrests, neatly arranged on the shiny checkerboard tile floor. Instead of tattered People Magazines, he offers a display of hardback books in an oak bookshelf. Instead of a TV blasting Fox News, his choice is Public Radio.
Above every dryer, instead of numbers, hangs a framed portrait of a famous racehorse. On the oak table, he always has a Keurig fired up with a rack of coffee pods, a bowl of creamers, and a basket of apples. People pay on the honor system and it seems to work.
I was disappointed that Leonard was not on duty when I made my bimonthly stop on Tuesday morning. I wanted to introduce Leonard to my horse partner, another guru of sorts.
A young mom with infant twins asleep in a tandem stroller was folding t-shirts between Dan Patch and Secretariat. I waved across to her, stuffed two loads of laundry into a pair of washers, dumped in my Tide, and punched in my quarters. My partner and I already had 2 mugs of coffee on his front porch, so we just sat in a pair of canvas chairs to watch my front-end loader rock and roll.
He said, “The last laundromat I was in was back in college, a total pit.”
“Leonard has an interesting business plan. Most of his customers are from the Bates Estates, a big mobile home park just down the road, but he also draws a crowd from the college with the books and the wi-fi. He is only open from 9 to 5 and he is usually is on duty, so he doesn’t have much trouble with vagrants or addicts scaring away customers. And the advice he gives is free.”
“He likes harness racing?”
“He follows all kinds of horse racing and loves baseball. We have had some good chats.”
As we sat side-by-side, I said, “I’ve got an issue.”
“I want you to come out of retirement and design an app for harness racing. This should take you or one of your nerds about six minutes.”
“An app to do what?”
“Allow me to continue to dump money gambling on harness races. Recently, I have slowed down my gambling because I have been feeling like a sap.”
One of my machines hissed into another cycle, “You know how when you sit down to watch TV, you have hundreds of channels?”
“Don’t own a television, haven’t for 20 years.”
“Of course you don’t.” I sighed theatrically.
“It’s not elitist. For the last 20 years, I’ve spent much of my time developing content, creating content to feed the beast. I didn’t watch for pleasure.”
“So explain this to me, I have never viewed a single minute of Discovery en Español. Why do I get it?”
He answered, “The reasons are complicated. Communications companies want to make as much money as possible, but this model is changing. You will cut the cord, dump your cable television and stream content, bet on this.”
“Good, I only have two eyes and one brain. Two hundred channels always seemed a tad gluttonous. Not to mention, I have probably wasted a few months of my life channel surfing past “My Tattoo Nightmare” and ”Blades of Steel – Competitive Knife Sharpening.”
“So what’s this about Trey? How does it relate to gambling?”
I cleared my throat and lowered my voice, “Unless I wager blindly, unencumbered by calculations, I will require a race program. Without racing programs, the delusions of my ability to decipher the upcoming races will disappear. Without programs, four-year-old children pointing to colors on the screen are on a level gambling field. I need the data.”
“I thought that data was available?”
“It is, but, I only wager on trotting races. I do not want to purchase pages of printed pacing races. In addition, I watch horse races digitally and have a very short attention span. Therefore, I toggle between racetracks to allow the alleged action to flow.”
“And?” He tilted his head.
“This racing program dilemma has greatly reduced my wagering on harness races. Toggling between six racetracks in the course of a few hours requires six racing programs. The math is simple. The amount of money is not large. Adjustments are in order.”
He asked, “Are you sure a la carte purchasing of individual races isn’t available?”
“I am never sure of anything.”
He gave a mini-applause, “Trey, that was a short, concise presentation that we call an elevator pitch, which precedes a deck pitch. Usually, deck pitches have 19 visuals, these are the methods people with ideas use to explain their ideas to investors in my world.”
“I call it whining and bitching about an irritating problem.”
He smiled and said, “Collecting, archiving, assembling, and selling data is a legitimate business. Demanding payment for analysis of relevant data is a viable business model.”
“To me, the current model of getting a horse race program is annoying. When I sit down to wager on eight trotting races at four different racetracks, I will happily purchase the proper eight trotting races.”
He nodded, “The technologically shouldn’t be difficult. You should be able to just select your races and the company or the curator of the data should be able to create a single program of desired races for you to study.”
“Good, because should I continue to pay for races that I will not be wagering on, I will continue to be annoyed and gravitate to almost anything else.”
He gave me another encouraging clap.
This egged me on to my big finale, “Unless, and until, my races can be purchased a la carte, I will need to say hasta la vista and use my money and time to watch the Discovery en Español Channel, which always arrives in High Definition with the illusion of being free.”
He laughed, “Racetracks not streaming in High Definition is another whine for another time.”