Perils Of Packaging - Barry Hill

Why in this age of fast food labour saving gadgets and instant communication from almost anywhere do we have packaging that seems to be getting more and more impenetrable?


Some time ago, my old mobile finally gave up the ghost so I splashed out on a new mobile.  Well, when I say new, I mean a new one to me.  I have a reputation as a true Yorkshireman to live up to, ya know.  I bought it on eBay for a good price and eagerly awaited its arrival.  Two days later a box quite a bit larger than a mobile phone was delivered neatly wrapped in parcel tape.  When I say ‘wrapped’ I think this parcel was wrapped by the guys who sorted Tutamkhamum in what seemed like eight layers of three-inch-wide industrial strength parcel tape.  I tried finding an end to peel back but the sender must have used some secret ninja origami trick to fold the end under another part of the tape. I couldn’t find a loose end at all.  Eventually I had to use a Stanley knife to get into the box. A Stanley knife!  A very sharp Stanley knife!  Ya think this is a good tool for a blind man to wield?  It’s oh-so much harder to peel a mummified package that’s slippy with blood.  … eight, nine, ten.  Phew - fingers all there.  Where’s the plasters?


Still, a worse example of difficult packaging was yet to come.  I bought a memory card for the new mobile phone and it came sealed in one of those blister packs that I think were designed by a particularly fiendish demon or the Spanish Inquisition.  


I bent it and twisted it and even tried ripping it with my teeth, but the seal didn’t break.  I found the little cut-out that is used to hang it on the display rack and stuck my finger in intending to pull it apart.  Bugger!  Where’s those plasters? I gnawed at it a little more then feeling like a wimp I went to the office for the scissors thinking that these would get into it in no time.  How wrong I was! 


Because of the odd shape of the packaging, the cheap office scissors bent apart and made hardly a dint in the thing.  I considered stabbing it with the scissors but the mental picture of me trying to explain to the nurse in Accident and Emergency exactly how I managed to stick a pair of office scissors in my leg put me off.  It seems that it would take nothing short of a blowtorch to get into the thing. 


Instead I went for the kitchen scissors.  Ridiculous that the only way to get into this damned package was to use scissors that can cut chicken bones.  Grabbing these scissors reminded me of the struggle I had getting them off the card that they came attached to.  Some items like this are attached by twists of plastic—coated wire, but some, like these, are attached with cable ties.  I think they probably relish in the irony of using cable ties that you need a pair of scissors to cut off.  


As it turned out it was the wrong memory card anyway, so I had to take it back to the shop.  I didn’t think that the shop would give me a refund what with the packaging looking like it had been chewed by a pit bull terrier, but they did.  Hats off to T-Mobile.


After my almost exhausting strain with this packaging I felt like a drink of juice.  I took the carton out of the fridge, unscrewed the cap and poured the juice into a glass.  Well, that was my intention; I tipped it up and tipped it a little further then tipped it right up.  Odd that we tip way beyond any plausible flow of content before the grey cells kick in and tell you that there’s something blocking the flow.   I quickly dismissed the notion that orange juice can defy gravity and realised that there was more to do than to just take off the cap.  I felt the nozzle and was presented with a plastic ring pull thing.  


Is it just me or are these things only designed for some gnarled fingered miner to open?  ME with my Fairy soft hands can only open them with pain.  Maybe it was because I had been weakened by my struggles with the memory card packaging (cue violins) or else it was that this ring pull was particularly tough, but I just couldn’t shift the thing.  I pulled with my finger on one hand and then on the other hand and even tried pulling with my teeth.  Again, a mental image stopped me trying too hard with my teeth – having to explain to my dentist exactly how I pulled my front teeth out - so I soon quit that.  These sorts of tops are worse than the plastic milk bottles that have lids on them that seem to have been put on by machines with more torque than a Land Rover.


Finally, I got a spoon, put the handle through the loop and levered the thing open.  Boy I deserved that drink, but I was hungry now.  So, I thought I’d have some beans on toast. 


I found what I hoped was the tin of beans in the cupboard and was again presented with a ring-pull.  I managed to get my finger under it and cracked open the tin but pulling it off was another matter.  With some effort I peeled it back but just couldn’t pull it right off.  I waggled it back and forth but the lid was as stuck to the tin as stink to fish.  Ok I could pour the beans out into a pan but being the conscientious sort; I wash my tins out and recycle them.  Washing a tin that basically has a blade attached to it when you can’t see it is as risky as teasing a jack Russell with a toothache. 


Next comes the bread.  I got the nice fresh loaf out of the fridge - Yes; I keep my bread in the fridge – what of it?  - and tried to open that bit of tape they have around the top.  I’m sure it’s supposed to be folded over so that it’s not stuck together like a virgin’s legs but they all seem to be just stuck up to the end when I try to open them - The tape on the bread not the virgin’s legs.  So, I try to open it by putting my finger between the tape and the bag, but this only closes it up into a tight screwed up fastening that really isn’t going to come apart.  I try working the bag out of the tangled mess I’ve made but it’s like threading a needle with string only in reverse… sort of.  You know what I mean.  In the end I got my pair of trusty kitchen scissors and cut the tape off.  


Now you might think this is disgusting but I like mayonnaise on my beans.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  So, I went to the fridge to get the mayo out and found that I needed to open a new jar.  Incidentally when did we start keeping sauces in the fridge?  When I was a kid we kept all our sauces in the cupboard.  Still, when I was a kid I didn’t know that anyone but TV toffs ate mayonnaise.  Anyway, I got my jar of mayo out and tried opening it.  Why are jars fitted with a lid that has been screwed on by machines that have a grudge against anyone with less strength than a 19 year old builders’ labourer?  I grunted strained and cursed but I couldn’t get that damned lid off.  I used a tea-towel to try to get a better grip but that didn’t help and why should it?  Stupid idea.  Eventually I stuck it between the door and the door jamb near the hinge and twisted it off.  I think I managed to clean the mayonnaise off the door.  Well to be honest I think my dog managed to clean it off.  


After all this I was completely knackered.  Surely it shouldn’t be a work out getting a drink and bite to eat


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