Nov 13, 2008

Opportunity Lost

I know you think I'm making this up, but I am not. Really, I'm not.

This is a real product called the Bumper Dumper which the inventor says is a "must have" for any hunting or camping trip. Basically it's a toilet seat that attaches to a contraption that attaches to a trailer hitch. You can outfit your Dumper with a garbage bag as shown above, or large families with healthy gastrointestinal systems can upgrade to the deluxe model with a five gallon bucket.

This device should look slightly familiar to my family: my brother Roger and I invented damn near the identical thing a few years ago when about 30 of us met for a weekend camping trip in the mountains. One night we held a progressive dinner with a competition for best theme, and Roger, Brenda and I entertained you with the entree course.

You might recall our theme for the competition (which we won in a three way tie by the way) was "Redneck". Along with a clothesline strung between the trees filled with boxershorts jauntily flapping in the breeze and Christmas decorations blinking in the July heat (not to mention Roger's authentic redneck attire), our decor included a sporty "thunder bucket" much like the one pictured. The only difference was we didn't hang it off a pickup truck--we put it near a tree close to the dinner table for optimal viewing in hopes of garnering more votes for the best theme.

That simple decision--to shamelessly pander for votes instead of hitching our toilet to a truck--turned out to have a severe impact on my retirement planning.

These Dumper Dumpers are selling like hot cakes at $69.95 a pop and some redneck named "Uncle Booger" (I am still not making any of this up by the way) holds an honest-to-gosh patent on it. Uncle Booger has appeared on TV shows such as The Tonight Show to promote his product. The host gets an opportunity to air all his redneck jokes at Uncle Booger's expense and Uncle Booger gets to laugh all the way to the bank.

I am not amused. What we considered to be nothing more than an tacky prop for a theme night dinner party turned out to be--with a minor tweak here and there--a gold mine for some guy named Uncle Booger.

All that stood between me and Uncle Booger's millions was my total lack of imagination, complete absence of vision and follow-through, and my utter disinterest in being the brunt of endless redneck jokes. In the words of Maxwell Smart, I was that close. And to make matters worse, this comes just when I was finally coming to grips with the knowledge that someone beat me to the punch with the concept of the ziplock bag.

If you want to stuff some cash into Uncle Booger's pocket instead of mine, you can cop a Bumper Dumper here.

While you do that I'll get back to work on my idea for The Next Great Idea, the specifics of which I am trying to figure out.

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