The Packaging People Must Be Stopped

September 4, 2010 at 3:35 am Leave a comment

We all know the OCD-inducing-pick-pick-pick-maybe-some-teeth-okay-the-new-song-I-wanted-to-hear-is-now-an-oldie frustrations of opening CD or DVD packaging. (Honestly? It’s one of the main reasons I like to buy used video games instead of new.) And we’ve all made the transition to the extra bit of paper lid or plastic wrap between us and our over-the-counter medications, a flimsy li’l bit of whatchamacallit to guard us from societal crazies. Heck, there are a lot of kids out there, now old enough to need a couple of Tylenol, Tums, and Vitamin C tablets on a Sunday morning who have no memory of it ever being any easier to get hangover relief.

(Yes, sometimes, on my Conspiracy Theory days, I do sort of wonder if someone didn’t just poison those Tylenol bottles because they had this shiny new business plan in the trunk of their car for a protective packaging business. But I digress. And it’s almost positively not the case.)

(But, you know, if it were true, that a-hole is now very, very rich.)

Some packaging makes sense, and I don’t begrudge the manufacturers a living. That white foam stuff that a computer or microwave oven comes in? Sure, that makes sense. It protects the electronics, makes things less expensive to ship, and getting to your new toy is as simple as opening a shoebox.

Fine.

But why is there a plastic-paper-tin-foil cap on my ketchup? Inside, beneath the real cap, beyond the bit of plastic that was wrapped around the cap. Why is there a super-secret hidden cap that you don’t know is there until you’re attempting to squirt that ketchup. (An-ti-ci-pa-tion, my ass.) Those secrets caps are everywhere now. Ketchup, mustard, mayo (and who the hell thought it was a good idea to put mayo in a squeeze bottle anyway?), salad dressing, chocolate syrup, coffee creamer. Half the time, you can’t get a pinky finger-hold on the spot marked “pull here,” and the other half the time, you pull and the contents go spurt! all over your new work blouse that you are now forced to wear around the office all damn day, including that important meeting with the big boss or the cute vendor.

Now, okay, deep down, you kind of tolerate all of that because, no matter how busy, lazy, or stressed out you may be, you generally don’t want to be poisoned. So, all right, fine.

But.

Let’s talk for a moment about non-edible-product packaging.

All of it designed solely to make a product look good on the shelf. None of it designed to enhance product enjoyment by the customer.

The customer cannot be king if ruled by the evil dictator Twisty-tie.

Twisty-ties made of some super-polymer-covered titanium-like alloy crunched into place by someone very strong. (Picture those hard-core weight lifters every gym has two of, grunting as they put each twisty-tie in place. Unh. Unh. Good one Gunther. Heh heh leetle boy never get to play with toy. Unh.) One small toy; 452 twisty ties holding it place, holding it to the hard plastic envelope thing, holding that to the box it came in. (Hundreds of thousands of twisty-ties that, thanks to my cats quick reflexes and fascination with anything small and plastic, now lie stockpiled beneath my dresser, under the non-rolling rolling file cabinet in my office, behind the dining room buffet, and in every other nook and cranny you might one day have to peer into in search of a dropped pen, a rolling quarter, or a missing passport.)

And if it’s not the twisty-ties, which are designed to make un-twisting, at least, a viable theory, it’s those hard-plastic bands that you need industrial wire cutters to get through. Could there be anything worse?

Uh, yes. 

With the long Labor Day weekend, I, like many I would guess, start thinking “home project.” With that in mind yesterday, I stopped in at Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a few things that needed fixing or replacing. I strolled through the sale rack. (50% off the already marked-down sale price? Who can resist?) There was a lot of really ugly crap. (There’s a reason stuff is 50% off the sale price of course.) But, in the midst of the tie-dye style curtains, the Disco-era bath accessories, and the super-tacky His and Hers laminated faux-antique wall hangings, I spied The Perfect Kitchen Clock.

Round red metal, white face, simple style, kind of 40s or 50s? It looks a lot like the one currently hanging in my kitchen, except that it isn’t a cheap, yellowing, plastic-piece-a-crap that I salvaged and painted red around the edge because I couldn’t afford to buy the cool round red metal clock I’d seen in a catalog. And it was on sale. And 50% off the sale price.

I gleefully snatched that clock out of the Beyond aisle and checked out.

This morning, after a good lounge in bed, sighing, “Ah Saturday.” and a good loungy stretchy yawny Ah-Saturday cuppa coffee, I thought, “Ooh! I’ll start the tasks of the day with a fun and easy one:  I’ll put my new clock in its place of honor.”

It’s in a cardboard frame sort of lidless box. There’s not even any cellophane over the front. What could be simpler?

I grasped the clock and, one foot already on the step stool, pulled. Huh? No give. Not a budge. And not a twisty-tie in sight. 

This clock is held to its packaging with screws. Screws! Two of them—drilled into the back of the box through washers. And, yep, you know it, Phillip’s head.

And so the Labor Day begins. I’ll be in the basement.

What packaging shenanigans would you put an end to if you could? Or, what sort of Labor Day fun are you getting into?

Entry filed under: Humor - Commentary. Tags: , , , , .

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