LIVE AUTO NEWS — We are buttered up to our gills with excitement. We just intercepted a nascent press release (someone emailed it to us by accident) from Trico announcing their intent to bring to market a new windshield wiper blade that is, honestly, something we never thought we wanted. However, given the fact that Trico is the inventor of the windshield wiper, we’re going to cede our concerns and trust in the big-name brand.
This new wiper blade will be called the “Trico Benefactor,” and its primary improvement—or, its essential distinction, we should say—is that it will “elongate” “that smear” that always forms “directly in the line of sight of the driver.”
As Dirk “Puddles” Meuenthal, Trico’s Head of PR, had planned to say, “We are pleased to announce our newest product, which has been inspired by feedback from our consumer base. This is an innovative new product that is sure to please. We are so pleased about this product. It pleases us.”
We reached out to Meuenthal for comment. He said, “Yes, we are going to announce a new product line. Who told you that?” We told him that he did. “Oh,” he said, “I guess never mind then. Yeah, it’s a new windshield wiper blade. Our customers asked, and we answered. More details will come out three weeks from now.”
We asked him for more insight since we already had him on the phone. He said, “Off the record? Look, we’re in the wiper business. We haven’t made an innovation since windshield fluid in the thirties and intermittent blades fell into our lap, as did hydrophobic coating. We’re like ketchup or forks—we don’t innovate, we just continue to manufacture. But that’s not attractive to investors, so we had to make something new.”
“Our social media interns found, on Twitter and Reddit, small pockets of people discussing ‘that smear’ that appears on the return swipe of parallel left-hand-drive intermittent wipers; you know, ‘that smear’ that gets right in the line of sight of, well, you read the press release, you know what I’m talking about. So, these people were all raving about it—or ranting, I should say, but dialogue is dialogue.”
“There were some folks who expressed ironic enjoyment of ‘that smear’ inhibiting their vision, and the mesmerizing notion that conjuring ‘that smear’ in expressly ‘that location’ on the windshield was some kind of ‘windshield fluid selling’ conspiracy that would see us make more money off excessive use of windshield fluid due to a ‘designed impairment’ in our blades. Of course, there was no intent there—windshield wipers just sometimes bow in the middle or lose traction on the far end of the blade—and we don’t ‘want’ to milk them for windshield fluid; we don’t even manufacture windshield fluid!”
“We cataloged these ironic gripes not as complaints but as praise because that’s technically what it was; that’s probably my fault. So when our design team went through the quarterly comment logs, they saw an excessive amount of ‘praise’ for what everyone was calling ‘that smear.’ And these are engineers we’re talking about, so they’re incredibly smart but of very narrow focus and literal interpretation, so their critical thinking wasn’t exactly being used in the right place.”
“They made a mock-up of a leading blade that will, from the moment it’s installed, intentionally create smudges across the line of sight of the driver. The rubber on the outermost two inches is jagged and stippled with wax; it’s really well designed despite being completely idiotic.”
“The sales team saw how ‘cool’ the gray-stippled tip was and, looking over the metrics for the ‘buzz’ of this pain point and misinterpreting the irony as interest, began developing a marketing strategy. The investors loved the pitch, so now here I am, basking in my own ineptitude. Is that what you want to hear?”
We said, “Yes.” He hung up.
Since Meuenthal had “asked” if it was off the record rather than asserting it, and since we didn’t yet confirm his question before he started speaking, we decided that we wouldn’t breach our journalistic ethics if we published his subsequent comments.
In the early 1990s, after President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trico decided to shut down its manufacturing hub in Buffalo, New York, and move all of its industry to Mexico, wherein they could produce wiper blades for pennies on the dollar and then ship them north back into the States for only a few pennies more.
This, paired with other industries in Buffalo and across the Great Lakes doing the same, led to the rapid disemployment of working-class men and women in mid-sized cities across the northeast and midwest, thus turning the “Steel Belt” into the “Rust Belt” and turning Buffalo into the “Detroit of the East.”
We do not weep for Trico’s inevitable failure with the release of their “Trico Benefactor” and their foolhardy belief in the public’s love of “that smear.” If anything, they deserve it; they and others like them are “that smear” on America’s windshield. For as much as we trusted them to help sustain our vision of the road ahead, their “elongating” gluttony has only further muddied our optimism and confidence, making our personal misfortunes ever more likely as we journey into oblivion.
The “Trico Benefactor” is estimated to retail at $22.99 and will be available anywhere auto parts are sold.