Geezer Tribe: Geezer-proof packaging

by Linda Shaffer

For the most part, I think we oldies are pretty patient about things and if we aren’t, it’s because we get frustrated by that which we can’t do but used to be able to do. There are also those things that never were very easy to do and yes, those things ticked us off when we were young and still do. There’s also a whole new category of barriers to opening things invented by people younger than ourselves. Remember, these are the people who will also be taking care of us as we age.

Let us start this conversation with golden oldies, metal keyed lids. You’ll find them inconveniently located on sardines, anchovies and in the good old days, Spam. When the kids were still in high chairs, I took the end of my index finger off with a Spam can. I called my husband Doug and after my lecture about being a putz, he advised me to put it the piece of finger in the freezer. We would go to the emergency room when he got home from work. I frittered away the afternoon after making Spam sandwiches for the kids and was then taken to the ER, along with my frozen finger tip, by Mr. Grumpy Pants. Beggars can’t be choosers, so they attached what they could salvage of the frozen finger-shaped blob upside-down. My new smaller finger tip still makes a heck of a print.
I never liked those overstitched string openings on feed bags either. I was only successful in pulling the correct way two or three times out of hundreds of bags of animal feed. The rest of the time I opened the whole thing without meaning to, often spilling feed while creating some kind of macrame-looking thingy that usually got caught on something. By then I was married to a man who, along with his teen-aged sons, calmly asked, “Why don’t you let us help you with that next time?”
By the time Mr. S and I decided to get married, I tried to offer him a full disclaimer about some of my “issues.” I’m surprised he didn’t look at my teeth. We’ve been challenging each other ever since. After more than 40 years together we have a mutual dislike for certain types of packaging and because I am “challenged” by most of them, he gets stuck as the official family opener of stuff. We have always shared a dislike of plastic wrap and thin tin foil. Nowadays you can add parchment paper rolls to that list. Oh and by the way, did you know that foil and parchment come in sheets these days? Now to plastic wrap. One whole side of our box is dedicated to telling us how to get the wrap out of the box in one piece, cut and placed over whatever it is that we are trying to seal from harm.
Here we go: “Lift edge to start”; and small print. Next, “Push tabs to hold in place”; and small print. Now, “Tear up and across,” and more small print. Finally, “Clings tight.” Each step is illustrated so you can’t go wrong. HA! Now WAIT, let’s go back to that part about the tabs, conveniently located on EVERY box. Did we do that part? Nope. Instead we hurt ourselves and curse the plastic wrap and its parents while we wrestle it out of the box and end up with a blob incapable of covering anything. Did we read and follow the instructions? Are you kidding? We’re 73 years-old and if we can’t get plastic wrap out of a box, there’s something wrong with it.
There certainly can’t be anything wrong with us when a package reads, “tear here” and it won’t. How about “lift and pull” lids? Really? To these I like to say, “How about I cut you with my electric can opener?” Try taking that 1/4″ piece of foil with the 1/8″ tab off the top of the next tube you try to open. I get the giggles every time I see the words, “NEW EASY OPEN”. Those words were written by the well meaning young folks I spoke of earlier. Apparently they don’t choose random old folks for product testing but they are still in charge of the future. They must not have opened and closed a lot of “self-closing bags”. Those silly kids. Wine bottles? That’s the reason they make battery powered openers and even better, sell reasonably good wine in boxes. You can take a knife to that stubborn perforated cardboard circle which covers the pour spout on the wine box but I wouldn’t recommend it. Just sayin’.
For all these reasons, scissors of all shapes have taken the place of reading glasses in our world. We wear real glasses now. The Geezer with the most pairs of scissors rules. Have a great week my friends. Aren’t you glad I didn’t start up about moulded plastic and cardboard?