As regular readers know, I’m taking Innovation & Risk this term. The final project for that class is a group project where we needed to come up with a disruptive innovation idea and apply the various models we learned in class to realize the innovation. My group’s innovation is BIOSCREEN, a biofilm layer that literally eats infectious virii and bacteria on contact and can be easily applied to hard surfaces in any building with modern air circulation.
One of the fun parts of this presentation is coming up with a way to demo your innovation. I thought of the idea of using disappearing ink that we would label and describe as H1N1 virus that we’ve dyed blue and suspended in a liquid for safety that we could spray onto a surface that had been theoretically treated with BIOSCREEN. The disappearing ink would disappear, and we could say that the virii had been eaten, tada!
This, however, presented a challenge. Before you continue, ask yourself where you would buy disappearing ink. Toys R Us? Yeah, they don’t carry it. Spencer’s? No go…and by the way, they have basically become a soft-core sex shop, so be forewarned. Smaller toy shops? No luck at the ones in my immediate vicinity. One toy shop woman looked at me like I must be crazy to even ask for it and suggested I try OfficeMax (which resulted in serious Why The Face from me). Buying online means buying either in bulk or paying $8+ for express shipping of a $1 bottle of disappearing ink. Creating it yourself is do-able, but it requires chemicals that are even harder to find. Remember those magic shops that they used to have in malls? They’re all gone now, at least around here.
So, on Sunday night, I was frantically Googling to try to find disappearing ink in my area. “Magic shop” led to only a few hits, mostly in downtown Chicago, and I didn’t want to drive there on an evening just to buy disappearing ink. However, “Joke shop” turned up a local gem: JJ Blinkers (warning: site is noisy!), a joke and costume shop in Antioch, just a few miles from home. They were already closed when I was Googling, so I made a note to call them the next day. I also found a store in Waukesha, WI…which is out of the way for my dear husband from his work in Milwaukee, but he was willing to head out there for me if JJ Blinkers turned up dry.
I got out of our morning staff meeting at work at around 10:20am on Monday and proceeded to call JJ Blinkers to check on the ink status:
Female voice: JJ Blinkers! How can I help you?
Me: I need disappearing ink. Do you have any in stock?
Female voice: [chuckling] Sure! Liquid or powdered?
Me: Hmm…well, I–
And my cellphone got cut off. So, I called back.
Male voice: Hello?
Me: Hello? (wondering if I somehow redialed wrong, because that sounds like DH, but I checked my display and sure enough, I was connected to JJ’s)
Male voice: This is JC, right?
Me: (even more confused, but then I realize they probably have me on Caller ID) Oh yeah, I just thought I had called the wrong number for a sec. I need disappearing ink.
Male voice: Yep, in powder or liquid form?
Me: Liquid form, just a couple of small bottles.
Male voice: Great! I’ll bring it home with me tonight!
Speaking of why the face…I was totally confused. It had sounded like DH, but I’d clearly called JJ’s, and whoever I talked to both seemed to know who I was and why I was calling JJ’s but then told me they’d bring it home.
So, I called DH’s phone and got his voicemail. I left him a message describing my confusion and proceeded to be absolutely perplexed. I wondered if my phone had somehow connected me to Scott and not the joke shop without telling me…or if someone working at the joke shop actually knows me from somewhere. Or, if caller ID had gotten much more sophisticated and they knew my address? Or, if the owner had simply meant that he had it at home and would bring it to the store tonight such that I could pick up tomorrow.
Hours later, DH calls me back and lets me know that, completely appropriately, the joke shop helped him confuse me. 🙂 It turns out that DH had tried to call me at 10am, but realized I was still in the staff meeting. So, he decided to just head over to JJ’s on his way up to Milwaukee to save me from having to call. He was there right when I was calling, overheard the saleswoman and realized it was me. So, when I called back, they conspired to have him pick up the phone and handle my call. 🙂 It was awesome on two counts: the hilarity of my confusion and the fact that DH had been a sweetheart and had handled this for me.
Very funny, JJ Blinkers… 🙂 And thank you, dear husband…you are awesome. 🙂