First, I should thank Rich for a July Challenge that seems to be custom-made just for me. THANK YOU, RICH! Now to explain what I mean by that statement:
Just nine miles from my house is a huge 3M plant in Cottage Grove, MN. Among many other things, this plant manufactures the reflective materials used on road signs, license plates, and safety devices all over the world. The picture at the top of the page is but a very small section of the sprawling facility.
While it’s true that 3M has been fined and sued multiple times over the years for polluting our earth, our air and our water, they do produce some important industrial products and some pretty cute products for us consumers too–like Post-it Notes and Scotch Tape. And don’t forget those reflective products.
Here are a few examples of how a bike rider might appreciate 3M’s innovation:
I didn’t get a picture of anything odd, unusual, or strange today, but I do have a story that fits ALL of those descriptive words. The setting for my weird story is back at the 3M plant.
A short distance ahead, I came to the test farm where 3M’s reflective products sit in the intense sun for months or years at a time. I pedaled about 50-feet onto a side road and took a couple of pictures of the test panels. Not more than a minute later, a white 3M Security vehicle drove up.
“Can I help you with something,” asked the uniformed security guy?
“No,” I replied. After a couple seconds of awkward silence, I realized what he was REALLY asking. “I suppose you saw me taking pictures of the plant back there.”
“Yeah. That’s okay though. It’s a public highway and you can take pictures from there, but when I saw you turn onto this road I had to come up here and investigate.”
“I’m not an industrial spy or anything, I just wanted to get a couple photos of these panels. They’re pretty cool.”
“True, but some of the things in there are patent-protected. I’m going to have to ask you to delete those pictures.”
I assured him I would, but after another second of awkward silence, I thought he might want some proof. “I’ll delete them while you watch,” I offered.
“I’d appreciate that,” he said.
So that’s what I did.
He was actually a pretty nice guy, just doing his job, so I didn’t argue. And technically, I WAS trespassing, so if I made trouble, he could make even more trouble for me.
[Since posting this, our compatriots, Bill and Bob, informed me that I might be able to retrieve those pictures from my trash bin. Huh? Trash bin? Yup, I looked for a trash bin, I found it, and here are the pictures that I thought were lost forever.]
That last picture was another dig at our friend Scott, though there is a good chance he won’t even see it considering he’s touring in England. Not only was I conducting research on good beer, but I was also wearing the Caribou Coffee jersey that he’s been coveting for more than a year now. And, related to the challenge, there are a couple of REFLECTIVE strips on the back pockets of the jersey. NICE!