Friday, May 26, 2006

today : for sale. the perfect invention

So anyway I was filling up my car. It was cold and rainy. I'd already waited for several minutes while the car in front sat idle until it's owner had queued up and paid. I noticed the person was browsing for magazines and sandwiches and I was in a hurry. When I got out the cold wind was biting. I have a a little arthritis in my hands - just enough to make gripping a petrol pump in the cold slightly less than easy. I only had ten pounds in cash and had to squint through the rain on my glasses to make sure I didn't run over and end up spending too much.

So here is my solution - an invention that solves all my problems of that morning. The triggerless petrol pump. All you do is put it into your tank. The pump nozzle has an electronic rather than mechanical trigger - a button on the top, or even better on the actual pump stand. It's heated.

Instead of having to watch a too-small LCD display, trying to put ten quid in instead of £10.01, the pump has a selection of big buttons, like a phone or a till. You simply press the amount you want £10, £5 or "fill tank". If you want to put a specific amount in, then there is a number key pad, like on an ATM, where you can choose.

As soon as you press Enter the pump automatically sets off. You don't have to wait around with your hand on the trigger. By the time you are inside the shop, your car has been filled automatically. It speeds up the throughput so that at busy times, other people have to wait less. You take the nozzle out of your car when you get back. Everyone is happier.

Why do the oil companies still operate on such outmoded technology? It's not like they don't have the cash for research and development. Everyone needs fuel for their cars and the prices are pretty uniform - the competition lies in other areas. Customer service, waiting times, whether you freeze to death whilst filling up, and ageing population with arthritic hands, sheer laziness.

My invention solves them all, and I am willing to let any of the major oil companies have it for about £20 million


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