Hump Day: Your packaging brought to you by the Marquis de Sade

HHump Dayump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I swear, I don’t know how people with reduced mobility, lack of strength or pain in their hands (such as those people with arthritis) open some things.

I’m a grown man and I have to practically hire bodybuilders to open some things. Heck, I nearly had an aneurysm trying to open a certain jar of pickles last week. With all my might, I tried to screw off that top while at the same time trying to avoid an explosion of broken glass and pickles all over the kitchen.

I put the lid under hot water. I tried to break the vacuum seal by sticking a knife under the lid. I pretty much had to throw the jar down in the middle of my street to break the bottle so I could have one of those stupid (yet delicious) pickles. I’m sure there are many out there who just forgo certain foods and other consumer items because quite frankly they’re just impossible to open. I don’t blame them.

Now, I realize that food safety is important, but I don’t think it’s necessary to protect the food from nuclear war while you’re at it. People buy it because they need to eat it. I can’t imagine how some people who are elderly or who have arthritis even eat sometimes. Some of the food in our grocery stores is packaged so strongly that access to what’s inside is nearly impossible.

Difficulty in opening a jar of pickles is a bit of a cliché, of course. They’re notoriously difficult to open because of the vacuum seal. But what about packaging for other food items?

Have you ever tried to open a box of baking soda? Don’t let the fact that white powder flies everywhere just picking it up. That would just lead you to assume that it’s easy to open. Nope. Oh, there’s a perforated opening on the side that says “Push Here.” Look, baking soda company (and it doesn’t matter which brand), I’ve tried pushing on that so-called perforated tab. The only thing that happens is that the box crumbles beneath my Herculean strength. (Yes, Herculean. Don’t question it. It’s Christmas. Just consider that your gift to me.)

Anyway, after the box inevitably collapses — under my Herculean strength (right?) — the precious little “Push Here” tab is still there completely intact. I would have had more success poking a hole in a concrete block with a piece of overcooked spaghetti.

Some of you are nodding your heads because the same thing has happened to you, too. Some sadistic packagers are surely giggling at us, too, knowing full well that there’s no perforation there and that, in fact, extra glue is put right behind the drawn-on perforation. I wonder how many people have snapped their fingers in half? Big problem, folks. Should be debated in Parliament! Stop the presses! National emergency!

If you’re like me, I just grab the nearest steak knife and start stabbing at it like a maniac. Then the little bugger opens for ya! Victory is mine! Unfortunately, by the time I open the impossible packaging, I forget why I needed baking soda in the first place. Best to start opening a new box at Easter if you plan on actually getting it open for your Christmas baking. I’m sure Santa Claus won’t mind. After all, you need baking soda to make his favourite cookies.

Packaging can also be dangerous to your health. Have you ever tried anything packaged in those hard plastic cases? Yeah, the ones you have to cut open with scissors — not an easy job because the plastic is so thick that regular-size scissors just aren’t suitable. And if you do manage to cut them open, the plastic is like a razor blade — likely 10 times sharper than the knife inside the package that you were trying to get out!

Just the other day, I was out shopping for bed sheets and picked up various packages in the store to read thread counts, sizes, contents, etc. You know, the normal stuff a person needs to do when deciding on whether or not to buy something. Well, the corner of the plastic package was so sharp that I literally gashed the palm of my hand — and quite deeply, too! (Inquiries from personal injury lawyers gladly accepted.)

My worst packaging nightmare, though, probably has to do with those Styrofoam peanuts used to protect mail-order items. Have you ever tried to throw those things out? They’re so full of static electricity that they stick to you like glue. There’s Styrofoam everywhere!

And don’t even get me started on medication. Child-proof caps? Folks, a grenade couldn’t open some of those things. And putting tiny little pills in blister packs should be against the law, too. My big sausage fingers don’t do terribly well trying to manoeuvre those tiny little pills out of there. What usually happens is that I push too hard and the pill flies across the room. By then, the cat has seen it and thinks it’s his newest toy and starts swatting it around like a mouse he just caught. Meanwhile, I’m screaming at him so he won’t eat it — which would force an emergency call to the vet clinic.

Let’s stop this insanity and create some packing that’s easy to open and not quasi-lethal after contact with skin. If I buy something, I actually want to open the package it comes in order to enjoy it. I don’t want to take a hacksaw to it.

I do know one thing. If someone gives me bottle of pickles this Christmas, I’ll know they either hate me or are trying to give me a subtle hint to get more exercise.

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