As 2017 ends, editors at HHTM were tasked with finding their all-time favorite posts and republishing them. I opted for the silly posts because they were the most fun to write. Among many silly posts, two stood out and tied for all-time silliest.
The winners are amended, abridged and republished today for my reading entertainment, and possibly for that of others who don’t feel like being serious as this tumultuous year comes to a close.
Silly Post #1: Location, Location, Location (published 7/3/2012)
Do you think private practice can survive in this industry? We have done pretty well and could sell, become a submarine, work for a couple more years and then figure out what we want to do with the rest of our productive lives, but………what about our daughter? She’s a dispensing Audiologist and her husband is a dispenser. I wonder………what’s your crystal ball say? Worried Mom
To which Hearing Economics replied by pontificating on its “Unified Relocation Theory” — basically a series of reflections on the old bricks-and-mortar path that boiled down to “Location, Location, Location.” A second post, republished today, paid homage to the traditional axiom that storefront thinking about Location DOES matter, while size isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Location is a Tiny Moving Target
There are people out there thinking creatively about how to use the old Location approach to advantage. As Exhibit A, I present the venerable advertising agency Clark&Kent, which has transformed itself from Superman’s phone booth closet into Clark Kent’s phone booth ad agency:
Defying traditional media approaches–including the telephone hanging in the office, the mailbox and the free local newspaper dispenser next door– Clark&Kent can be contacted only through electronic media (e.g., Facebook page), clever business card designs to encourage foot traffic. This forward-thinking company is leveraging Location to guarantee success.
If Superman Can Do It, So Can We
Now, let’s have some of this less-is-more creative thinking in our field. Why not business cards that pop up into single-use hearing aids, like the old disposable cameras we took on vacations before we got smart phones? Our convertible hearing aid cards would be emblazoned with our names and “dispensed” from our own versions of phone booths. Who says small independent practices are on their way out?
Just think how many times throughout the years we’ve used test booths the size of phone booths for various applications. Offices-on-casters (see feature image) have the added convenience of relocatability, just in case you don’t plop down at an anchor location on your first try and have to keep pursuing the cognitive mapping of local consumers. 1
These attributes meet an important requirement of the Unified Location Theory — being in a community. In fact, audiology in a phone booth can access a worldwide community, thanks to the Payphone Project which documents and “preserves the memory of public telephony…includ[ing] a massive collection of about 750,000 payphone numbers and locations throughout the United States and the world…even Antarctica!“
The phone booth office satisfies all other requirements of the Unified Location Theory as well:
- Locate in a Commons area: You just can’t get more into the public domain than a street corner, especially when the cop asks you politely to move on. I can see it now — audiologists will be fighting for street vendor permits at city hall.
- Locate where there are Local Communications, Regional Newspapers: Observe the free newspaper stand next to the phone booth in Exhibit A.
- Locate for Convenience. Old fashioned phone booths were located not only in public places, but convenient places with aggregated shopping and parking. Forget the test booth. Just move into an abandoned phone booth — look how easy it is to see merchandise displays in Exhibit A. You’ll be helping the Payphone Project, thereby getting your phone number listed in their “massive collection” while you simultaneously qualify for a charitable donation.
- Be the First One on the Block. This just keeps getting better. No doubt, your phone booth was the first one on the block. Most likely you can get your office approved as a national historic building — I think all public phone booths are at least 50 years old. That can reduce your property tax by almost 50% in some states.
- Solid But Not Hefty. For their size, phone booths and test booths are plenty heft. They’re not going to be blown over and nobody’s going to walk off with them. At the same time, their highly-desirable compactness allows the operator to monitor all functions in real time…. as well as answer the occasional phone call.
Apologies to readers who were expecting a serious post today. But, I think there are a few gems hidden here which are worth pursuing:
- I’ll bet a used phone booth is cheaper than a test booth.
- There’s a built-in Marketing Message that does half your work for you before a person even walks into your office: phone booths telegraph strong messages of privacy, noise reduction, and communications– all highly desirable features for those who use phone booths OR hearing aids.
- It must be a disruptive innovation because it’s using old technology (pay phones) in a whole new way. I doubt anyone has considered this application of telemedicine. Think of the possibilities in Antarctica.
Go Boutique but Stay Afloat
Phone booths offer a new spin on the Boutique Audiology concept. I found a great boutique site in Philadelphia (Exhibit B). This lovely, antique English phone booth is ideally situated outside a busy, noisy restaurant that coincidentally is called “Elephant & Castle.” Tragically, the booth sits empty, not even used for take-out food. For the right price, we can get our name in the slot and build a thriving, symbiotic business by aiding customers who had difficulty hearing in that noisy restaurant.
Finally, I have to point out that phone booths are an improvement over submarines, which were an option suggested by Worried Mom: “We have done pretty well and could … become a submarine.” Well really, I don’t want to be rude, but I think doing hearing healthcare in a submarine is just plain silly2 — parking is impossible, access is a big issue, they’re invisible when they’re under water…. I could go on and on.
I hope that Worried Mom will read this post to the end and rethink her options. Phone booths are a lot like submarines without the drawbacks so it shouldn’t be too hard to make the switch.
1A previous post investigated the legality of selling from portable stalls – we’re cleared for it under Sector 44 of the NAICS, Retail Trade–so long as we don’t sell food. Whew!
2Yes, Readers, I DO know that my idea of hearing healthcare in a phone booth is silly, but it’s OK if you want to send an irate Comment telling me just how silly it is.
Silly Post #2: Hearing Economics Hits the Century Mark and Contemplates the Meaning of Life (published 2/5/2013)
Disconcerting Item: Thomas Edison was Not an Economist
…and he was no Martha Stewart either. A little known fact is that Mr Edison was the proud owner and founder of the Edison Portland Cement Company. Edison was a Supplier in search of Demand, a guy who totally didn’t get the Economic concept of Utility.
In a prolonged fit of lunacy, Edison decided to create Demand by inventing a new concrete product — single-piece, cast-concrete houses for the poor masses. Talk about substandard housing. He “built” several hundred but couldn’t unload them at the rock bottom price of $1200. There were issues: repairs were impossible; so were remodels. Nailing a picture to the wall was almost impossible. And they were ugly.
Unthwarted, Edison forged on into furnishings and fixtures to keep his factory in business. Manufactured products ran the gamut from $5 concrete bedroom sets to sofas (featuring “foam concrete”) to…. concrete pianos, price available upon inquiry. There were issues: the furniture was uncomfortable, foam concrete notwithstanding; the pianos were unmovable, albeit indestructible. The company went into bankruptcy several times but somehow managed to outlive its founder, perhaps sending a message that life has some concrete meaning.
Some might ask “What was Edison thinking when he built a concrete piano?” Recall that he was severely hearing impaired and perhaps that influenced his choice of instruments and their construction. Or maybe he just needed to make some money and didn’t care how the pianos sounded.
“…being lifted by the ears onto a moving train by a helpful conductor (presumably, as Edison’s brother suffered similar partial deafness, a family hazard.”
Weird and Funny Item: Holly Finally Hits the Big Time
Another little known fact is that I masquerade as a full time student in the Economics Department at the University of Arizona. Even lesser known, and more surprising, is that I make good grades because I really like learning this stuff. This unexpected turn of events contrasts sharply with my first undergraduate degree decades ago, where my memories tend toward keggers on the Rio Grande. I am hazy on attending class but absolutely certain I was never a Legislative Intern.
I bring up Legislative Intern because, in my present reincarnation as the Oldest Student on a Bicycle on Campus, a strange event keeps recurring. Twice a year I get a letter from the Office of the Dean, which goes like this:
…you have been identified as a potential applicant for the Arizona State Legislative Internship Program. Students are sought from diverse backgrounds, and minority students are encouraged to apply. The work is demanding and fascinating …
I definitely qualify as a minority and I like the idea of doing fascinating things. But I can’t bring myself to participate in the destruction of State Government as we know it–a likely outcome if legislators were saddled with interns who could be their moms. Academics and Audiology aside, it seems that my Legislative Internship cred is seriously lacking, based on my co-workers and friends falling to the floor in laughing fits every time a letter of invitation arrives. This says something about the absurdity of life.
It also speaks to the foolishness of ignoring Economist Adam Smith’s thoughts on Economic Growth through Division of Labor and Specialization. You just can’t be good at everything, much less make a living by fitting hearing aids in the morning and running around with legislators in the afternoon. Consider the offer: $4200 and 12 hours credit for the semester, plus a $500 relocation fee because you have to move to Phoenix. That’s not even enough to buy one of Edison’s concrete houses.
Embarrassing Event: Watch Out for Doctors of Audiology in the Phoenix Airport Reading Magazines
Bon vivants know that Vanity Fair has long been the periodical of choice for the entertainment industry, or so I assume. I really don’t know much about the magazine or the entertainment industry because I am … after all … just an Audiologist.
Were I to bicycle across campus and enroll in the Audiology AuD program, I might correct those deficiencies and become an expert on living, documenting, or at least critiquing the bon vivant lifestyle. What? You didn’t know that an AuD prepared you for those awesome responsibilities? Read on.
I am a doctor of audiology who was reading your December issue while waiting for a flight at the Phoenix airport and was surprised to see Kate Moss’s nude photo when I turned the page. 2
VF Mail Bag Editors, known for their razor-sharp critical thinking skills–quickly zeroed in on the lack of such in our profession’s self-appointed representative:
What a coincidence: we are a magazine-mailbag feature with a similar affinity for sentences containing unrelated information….
I doubt that I’ve ever been as embarrassed by the self-important, overly used and completely useless use of our “doctor of audiology” title in my life, not to mention the completely nutty sentence. Needless to say, it compelled me to create my own nutty sentence to capture the moment:
As a potential Oldest Legislative Intern who was reading the January issue of Vanity Fair while sitting in a Starbucks in Tucson, I was shocked and chagrined to turn the page and see the lead sentence in the V.F. Mailbag .” 3
I’ve shown the V.F. Mailbag excerpt to other Audiologists and garnered comments such as “clueless, pretentious, painfully predictable, pompous.” Responses of non-audiologists indicate a general disconnect: “hilarious, inconceivable, Why did they say that? What were they thinking?” To answer that last question, readers are referred to a recent post on Dunning Kreuger effect.
V.F. Mailbag snagged the best response — Severn Day in Moorpark, CA, unfortunately not a self-identified doctor of Audiology–managed to say all that was needed without leaning on his profession, degrees, or airport location:
Alas, Vanity — where is thy Fair? Not, I’ll vow, in a Mossy pair. To age is but our common fate. Tuck them up, dear, you’re 38.
Indeed. VF knows entertainment, Kate Moss knows the camera, Severn Day knows gravity, Thomas Edison knows electricity, Legislators know Interns, Audiologists know…. Audiology. Only that and nothing more, That’s the meaning of certification, licensure, specialized degrees, Scope of Practice–specialized knowledge and skills restricted to those who demonstrate proficiency in specialized, narrow areas.
Notice how often “specialized” shows up? No matter how good an Audiologist one is, regardless of one’s degree level or airport of choice, none of that transfers and gives us special gifts, training, or credentials to evaluate content of entertainment magazines or other forms of Free Speech including cleavage.
And so the Meaning of Life boils down to careful husbanding of resources, which, coincidentally, is the short hand definition of Economics. Life is short. It’s not as durable as concrete. The longer the life, the more sitting in airports and other absurdities. You can’t be good at everything, but you can be good at something. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Just ask Martha Stewart, Thomas Edison, Kate Moss, even me. Just do NOT ask that doctor of audiology sitting in the Phoenix airport.
So much for getting a life. Time to tuck them up and start on the next 100 posts, in hopes they’ll get better with practice.
Au Revoir – 357 is Enough
Having written that in 2013, I’ve changed my mind and decided tucking up doesn’t work and writing more posts doesn’t reveal the meaning of life or improve the writing quality.
This is my last post as Editor of Hearing Economics. It has been so much fun but it’s good to stop while you’re having fun and get a life, meaningful or not.
Thanks to those HHTM readers who have logged in each week to read Hearing Economics. Stay tuned for a new, improved Hearing Economics as fresh faces and fresh thoughts are infused into this space.
1Edison’s less-known invention: the concrete piano. The British Week. 831, 20 Aug 2011, pp 40-41.
2More from The V.F. Mailbag, Vanity Fair, February 2013, p 50.
3Let me go on the record to state the obvious: This was NOT me. I live in Arizona, I am a doctor of audiology, I have sat in the Phoenix airport, I have read Vanity Fair. Despite the overwhelming evidence, I repeat: this is NOT me.