Since no one else but me has ever worn the PEPCan (except for the flag person who wore it on the first day of exposure to the world on my construction site), there is no one but me who can provide testimonials about the experience. What I can tell you is that I don’t make stuff up so everything you read here is the absolute truth.
From the time I first exposed my invention to the world, I have to confess that it’s taken a lot of courage for me to put this thing on and wear it in public. I’m not immune from the opinion that people have of me, and so I was filled with dread whenever I forced myself to do something that may attract ridicule from others.
In spite of my fears, each and every time I did go for a walk in the park wearing the prototype, some people would look at me like I was from another planet but the majority would praise its usefulness and would encourage me to take it to market. The following are some of the more memorable moments from those experiences.
Undated Experiences in Campbell Valley Park in Langley, BC
The following is a collection of those memorable experiences I've had while walking the maze of trails in my favorite park in south Langley. I never kept a dated log of these encounters, but they are etched in my mind and I can visualize them as though they took place yesterday.
The Letter Carrier
The very first time I wore it in the park was on a cold, windy and rainy day in December of 2012. I knew without a doubt that it would keep rain off me, since there was a physical barrier between me and the rain. What I wasn’t sure of yet was how it would behave in wind. It was beyond my expectations – I wasn’t being pushed around by the wind at all.
Not long into that walk I met a man who was carrying a huge umbrella – the largest one I’d ever seen - with one hand, while he tried to control a particularly frisky large Irish Setter on a leash with the other. His umbrella was testing the strength of his arm as the wind pushed it around, and you could see the frustration as he did his best to keep both dog and umbrella under control. When he saw me he stopped and stared with amazement at this strange looking device above my head. Without hesitation, he remarked how I would be famous if I took it to market.
I’m sure his frustration at having to fight his dog and the wind in order to try and enjoy his experience in the park had something to do with that remark, but it was nonetheless incredibly encouraging to hear that from the first person I met. We talked for a long time and it turns out he was a retired letter carrier who came to the park for a ten kilometer long walk every day. He told me that his fellow letter carriers would buy this without hesitation.
I met the same guy about six months later and he was happy to see me because he wanted to know when he was going to be able to buy one. He was disappointed that he couldn’t yet, but remarked again how it would make me famous.
On that same day, it was so ugly outside that I only met two more people during my two hour walk. One pretended that I wasn’t on the same planet with him, but the other was an older gentleman who was holding a small umbrella over the top of his camera while he tried to take a picture of some ducks that were swimming in the river near him. He quickly turned his attention to me and asked me if he could take some pictures of my invention. He said he would be looking for it on the market.
The Wildlife Biologist
On another trip to the park I met a young woman who explained that she came to the park on a regular basis and hated the fact that she had to carry an umbrella for hours to get her exercise. She went on to explain that she was a wild life biologist who spent most of her working days in the field taking measurements and documenting the information, and that rainy days made her work life miserable. She told me that she had been looking for six years for something like this, and that she would be looking for the day it appeared on the market. She expressed that she and her colleagues had discussed on several occasions how nice it would be to be able to do their work without having to fight the rain, and without hesitation remarked that all her colleagues would be buying one. She couldn’t wait to tell them it would be coming soon to market.
The Boy Scouts
I once ran into a troupe of Boy Scouts – about twenty in all – who were being supervised by three young women. They were from a Boy Scout facility located across the road from the park. When they saw me, they encircled me while they made comments like ‘cool’ and ‘that’s really neat – I wouldn’t have to hold an umbrella if I had one of those’. Two of the young women pulled out their phones and took pictures of me and one of them asked me when they would be able to buy one. She told me that she could see all her kids talking their parents into buying one for them. Seeing the enthusiasm being displayed by the kids faces convinced me they were right. That's when I decided there was a huge market potential for kids' versions built into pack sacks.
The Lumber Yard Manager
That same day I also met a middle aged woman who was the manager at a lumber yard. She talked about how the yard workers were always complaining about the rain and as soon as she saw it on the market she would outfit all her yard workers with one.
I met joggers on two different occasions that stopped running to ask me if it could be worn while jogging. I didn’t know the answer, but assured them there was a distinct possibility that a future model could be made to work for runners. It would need to be ultra light weight, but there’s no reason to believe it couldn’t be done.
Two others I met who expressed their opinions that I would become famous (I’m uncomfortable with saying that here, but it’s what really happened) include a woman who was walking a baby carriage, a woman who was just walking as a form of exercise, and a couple who encouraged me to notify the local papers to get the word out.
As a word of note, I have since done that and neither local Langley papers were interested. I’ve come to realize that the majority of people who see the value in the PEPCan are those who spend a lot of time in the outdoors. Everyone else, it appears, just see it as dorky. That’s human nature. If you don’t spend a lot of time in the rain, you won’t see beyond its' inherent dorky appearance to recognize its' fantastic utilitarian value.
January 30, 2014 – Walking in Tynehead Regional Park in Surrey, BC
January 30 was a particularly miserable rainy and windy day and was perfect for testing out the PEPCan in real world conditions - and for once again supplying me with the mystical experience I had come to look forward to while walking in the rain while wearing a PEPCan. I have come to believe that my brain expects me to feel cold and wet when it's raining, and when that doesn't happen there's a euphoric feeling that replaces the normally negative feeling associated with being out in the rain.
The notable thing about this walk in the park was the number of positive responses compared to the number of people I met. I had come to expect a positive reaction from roughly half the people I met, but on this day fully all but one person expressed opinions that it was destined to succeed be a commercial success.
Whether or not this thing makes it in the marketplace, there's one thing I know with absolute certainty - I, personally, will never again have an outdoor experience ruined by rain. For me, that's pretty cool.
The first person I met - about a half hour into the walk - was a man about 50 years old who was walking an old Black Labrador and carrying a four foot diameter umbrella. As I petted the dog, his owner stared at the PEPCan for a moment and spoke with a strong British accent as he said, “Did you buy that on the internet?” When I told him I invented it, he stared at it for another second and said, “That thing will sell in England”. Then he said, “I can fish with that thing on. In fact, I can even fly fish with it on. Are you going to bring it to market?” When I answered in the affirmative, he said, “Make sure you do. I’ll be buying one as soon as I see it for sale.”
The second encounter was with three people who, I guessed, were tourists from some Asian country. The two women and a man, all apparently in their forties, were carrying large umbrellas. As they approached me the women looked at each other and started giggling. They obviously found the appearance quite amusing. Then one of them said “That’s good”. The man said, in broken English, “You make that?” When I said yes he said, “You are a very talented man. You sell?” I tried to explain that I was in the process of taking it to market, but it was obvious he didn’t understand what I was saying. Then he smiled and said, “You sell?” again. I took that to mean that he was telling me to take it to market.
The third encounter was with a guy who was walking his bike and his dog, holding on to his bike with one hand and talking on a cell phone with the other. He was wearing a rain suit and was soaking wet. As he walked by, he interrupted his phone conversation to turn his head to me and say, “Now that’s a great idea. You won’t have any problem selling that”.
The fourth encounter was with a couple who I guessed they were in their sixties. They stopped me and asked me, “Where did you get that?” That segued into a ten minute long conversation about how many people could use it, how it would fit into their lifestyle, and how I needed to get it to market because it is a ‘winner’ (her words).
Then I ran into a single Asian guy carrying a four foot diameter umbrella. He nodded and smiled at me as he said, “Very good idea” as he kept on walking.
Then I ran into a pair of women, both carrying big umbrellas and probably more than 60 years old, who stopped as they approached me. One of them said, “Now that is an excellent idea. I get so tired carrying this thing (referring to her umbrella) and I have to keep changing hands. I walk in this park all the time to keep fit and I’ve got arthritic joints and it would be so nice to not have to carry an umbrella.” We chatted more about how many people could use it, and she said as I walked away, “Make sure you get that thing to market.”
The last person I met was a young guy walking a dog near the parking lot. He tried hard not to acknowledge my existence as he tried to coax his dog into doing what his master brought him there to do. You can’t win them all.