Back to School

Few things are crazier than hitting the store on Black Friday or the day before Christmas. But back to school time is quickly becoming its own little version of Hell.

My wife and I were doing some back to school shopping and entered the store’s special back to school area. It looked like my basement after my daughter has a sleepover. There was stuff everywhere…parents were walking around clutching some number two pencils and a crumpled up school supplies list. One woman grabbed my arm and said ‘Do you know what a 14 pt folder is? Does anyone know what a 14 pt folder is!?’ The workers had blockaded themselves in the cashier station using art boxes. Three days later we emerged. I swear, it was a madhouse.

So maybe it just felt like that. But make no mistake – back to school season is big business. Brands are advertising around it more than ever. Side note: check out the new awesome Kmart lunch lady commercial. “Make it rain! Corn!” And is it just me, or is the ‘season’ starting earlier and earlier? Granted I’m one of those guys who turns into a 90-year-old when I walk into a store in October and see Christmas stuff. I also think fall beers shouldn’t hit shelves until September 1. But apparently the public is is demanding that back to school season start earlier. According to this Digiday article, which is a great summary of back to school season, 22% of us want to buy our supplies TWO MONTHS before school starts. What??

Combine that with the fact we’re not cheap (spending is projected to be around $4B on supplies alone) – why wouldn’t brands be trying to extend the back to school season?

I have a four-year old. I have an eight-year old.

I spend way too much time worrying about germs and wiping things down. In fact, sometimes I feel that’s all I do. And this is just the summer. Wait until they are back in school. Wait until one of them gets sick and I literally dunk the whole house in a bucket of that leftover liquid at the bottom of a tube of Clorox wipes.

Having just come back from vacation I can honestly say the worst part is bathroom duty. Taking a kid into a bathroom at a gas station, a fast food joint, a water park…there are just some things that kids aren’t meant for. But, hey, as they say, when you gotta go, you gotta go. And after several minutes of making sure every inch of the stall is covered with toilet paper your kid should be free to do just that. Then you have to deal with a gross sink…but at least you’re armed with soap. Oh, but wait, there are no clean paper towels so you have to go find some napkins which means you have to grab a wet door with a wet hand feeling that you’ve completely negated the effects of washing your hands swearing next time you’re just going to go in armed with rubber gloves and a vat of hand sanitizer.

Think I’m extreme? Think I’m in this situation just because of kids? Think I’m a germaphobe (ok, I kind of am)? Well regardless of what you think of I am you should know…I’m not alone. Check out this stat from USA Today that shows just how much we do to avoid touching surfaces outside of the home. Of course, at the top of the list is my favorite – flushing with your foot.

Even George Jetson drank coffee.

We are living in an age of constant improvement. Constant refinement. And that’s very exciting. But there are some things in life that should be left…alone. Beer. Baseball. The original Star Wars trilogy. Coffee.

Yes, coffee. Leave it alone. If you don’t want to drink it, fine. Have your big Diet Coke every day. Drink your energy drinks. Your herbal teas. Your…nothing. But don’t try to improve on coffee. However, that’s what one Harvard professor is trying to do.

David Edwards has developed an inhalable coffee. An eCoffee maybe? It comes in something that looks like a tube of lipstick and could signal the end of mankind. If we start walking around inhaling our coffee…I mean, what’s left for us? I’ve seen the future on Star Trek: The Next Generation. And even with a replicator at their disposal they still order coffee (Okay, Capt. Picard orders earl grey).

There are plenty of things that need improved. Coffee isn’t one of them.