Saturday, March 21, 2015

Rubber Bands and Melted Butter

I have been thinking about rubber bands and melted butter. 

I started thinking about rubber bands when my dad told me, “I am cleaning out my file cabinets, and I need heavy-duty rubber bands.  You can’t buy heavy-duty rubber bands in this town.”  Dad lives in Tucumcari (New Mexico) with 5,362 other people.  Tucumcari is not to be confused with Tumacacori (Arizona), population 393.

Many people do confuse Tucumcari with Tumacacori.  I know this because a man, having learned that my dad lives in Tucumcari, told me that he’d visited the National Historical Park there.  I told him that I was pretty sure that Tucumcari didn’t have a national historical park.  He said I was wrong because he clearly remembered going to the hot springs there. 

I asked my dad if a national historical park and a hot springs I didn’t know about had sprung up in Tucumcari.  He said, “No.”

Then he told me about Tumacacori because several people over the years have tried to convince him that Tucumcari had a national historical park and a hot springs.  My dad is pretty stubborn, so you just as well forget about trying to convince him that he that he’s somehow overlooked a national park and a hot springs in a town of 5,363 where he’s lived for forty years.

So that springs me back to where I started: rubber bands.

I thought I would try to be a dutiful daughter and Amazon dad some rubber bands.  (I may be the first person to verbify Amazon.)  So I searched Amazon for rubber bands. 

Good grief!  I had no idea that rubber-band-buying was so complicated.  Postal-approved rubber bands are #64.  Did Dad need his rubber bands to be approved by the post office?

The most popular rubber bands are #19 and 33.  I was pretty sure that Dad didn’t give two hoots in hell about whether his rubber bands were popular.

I discovered that regular rubber bands come in sizes ranging from 7/8 X 1/16 inch to 7 X 5/8 inches.  That doesn’t include 112-inch-long rubber bands for bundling pallets.  I didn’t even know that people bundled pallets with rubber bands.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want to. 

I learned that you can buy rubber bands that are latex-free.   You can buy them in an assortment of primary colors.  You can buy them in small packages of a dozen or in big boxes of thousands.  You can buy them in handy Kleenex-type boxes so they pop out one after the other. 
Best of all, you can buy them in balls.  I’ve always wanted a ball of rubber bands.  I thought about Amazoning myself one just for the fun of it. 

I wondered whether the guy whose job is making rubber band balls would be 1) a fun guy to hang out with or 2) really, really anal. 
I learned that people do strange things with rubber bands, like Joel Waul, who holds the world's record for the largest ball of rubber bands: an 8-foot-tall, four-and-a-half-ton ball of 700,000 rubber bands.  He sold it to Ripley's Believe It or Not for a ton of money.  Believe it or not.
Some other things people do with rubber bands are even stranger. 

I had forgotten that my home of Hot Springs, Arkansas is home to Alliance Rubber Company (ARC), which makes rubber bands, but I was reminded of it as I was googling.  I learned that ARC is third-generation family-owned and the current owner is a woman.  I learned that ARC was one of two companies to win the US Department of Commerce’s Excellence in Innovation Award recently, and they are civic minded.  They ask people to Buy American by spending one additional dollar per day on American-made goods.  Maybe on their rubber bands.

I learned that ARC makes ergonomically-correct rubber bands.  I never knew that rubber bands could be ergonomically incorrect.

The only picture of the owner of ARC showed her sitting at a table in Nova Scotia with a live lobster. She was pointing to the big rubber bands on its claws.  She said the lobster was one of her favorite customers, Lawrence the Lobster. 

I’d bet five bucks that Lawrence the Lobster wouldn’t return the warm sentiment.  I’m pretty sure that if he could get loose from her rubber bands, he’d pinch her all the way from Nova Scotia to Tucumcari, where she ought to be civic-minded enough to send a ball of rubber bands since you can’t buy them there.  Or maybe he would pinch her all the way to Tumacacori, where she could visit the National Historic Park and treat him to a dip in the hot springs.  And then some melted butter.

1 comment:

  1. I skimmed an article in the Hot Springs Village Voice just a day or two ago that caused me to come back here for another look. It was about the rubber company. When I saw the article, I remembered the photo of the woman with rubber bands wrapped around her face and head. And I wondered whether rubber bands really can be ergonomically correct if used in the way she used them.