I try to maintain my focus on whatever task is at hand. There are
times, however when a distraction is welcome. My favorite
distractions are the counter displays that await you at the cashier’s
desk; three favorites are my topic this week.
Let’s start with Lucas oil additive display that you see at many auto
parts stores. This display features a series of gears that intermesh and may be launched into movement by cranking a small handle. One set of gears is bathed in oil while another parallels the first and sits in oil plus the additive which the display intends to sell. I love the counter-rotation of the gears; it holds my attention like string does cats. It also
dramatically demonstrates how well the additive makes the oil adhere
to moveable parts. I have fallen prey to this wonderful distraction
and it has given me many enjoyable minutes while awaiting car parts.
I am a mechanical person; however I like electronic distractions
also. Hugo’s grocery store in Thief River Falls, Minnesota features a series of closed-circuit
televisions which scroll from one advertisement to another. I enjoy
the bright colors as they appear at an intensity just below the point
that creates seizures. Watching these little televisions is similar
to the meditative state exhibited by most folks sitting at a sports bar
watching the weather channel. My main motivation is waiting to see what animal is featured on the humane society advertisement as it scrolls past my view then back into the little bright box.
Finally, we have the turnstile-type display at Northwest Power Systems;
easily my favorite distraction. This display features a few dozen
varieties of electrical switches. There is the push button variety,
variable speed, delay, silver single-throws; an incredible variety. While these metal and plastic pieces control electricity, they are mechanical in their nature. Their activation requires human manipulation which is where I come into the picture. Each switch has a certain personality, makes a different sound or has a unique action. I like the crisp snap of one switch while the extra long toggle of another seems almost artistic in its inspiration. The little rocker switches are the rank and file workers which aren’t fancy but get the job done. The switch display is on a carousel that allows you to turn to a different bank of what is for sale. Even after a couple of year of observing and interacting with this display, I still expect something new each time I turn it. I guess I’m really smitten.
I don’t know if anyone exists who is quite as enamored with counter displays as I am; probably not. I do however know that while there are those who say there is not enough to do in town, I would say they are just not looking at the right counter.