I wonder: Is technology really helping?

Published 8:40 pm Saturday, July 11, 2015

Are you old enough to remember the little round cardboard stoppers with a tab that fitted inside a glass milk bottle? To open the bottle, all you had to do was pull up the tab and, hurrah, there was the milk. Then waxed cartons appeared with which I have had an everlasting struggle. Occasionally I deal with one of those to open a small carton of milk or juice or some other liquid. They are supposed to open into a spout at the top. However, they never turn out right for me. I usually wind up ripping the openings to pieces out of frustration. The result is usually a spill when I pour something out of the carton. I am so thankful that we now have twist off caps on plastic milk jugs. Those I can master.

There are other container tops as frustrating as spouts on those waxed cartons. For example, what about the tightly sealed caps on, say, pickle jars and jelly jars? As hard as I try, I just cannot open those on the first try. Evidently, my grip is too weak and it hurts my hands. I have tried all sorts of ways to open jars like that. When it does not work with a twist or two with my bare hand, I grab a cloth and twist unsuccessfully. My next method is to run hot water over it. In desperation, I have actually put a jar between a door and the door facing and twisted. Sometimes that risky method works, but once in a while it breaks the jar. Eventually I remember to open a drawer and scratch around for a gismo my husband bought me to loosen the grip. Then I can screw the cap right off. About that time, I recall what my daddy used to point out: it is so easy if you have the right tool.

These days so many items come packaged all over in plastic, even toothbrushes. My daughter bought me a tool to puncture the plastic, but I am still trying to learn how to work it. If you can’t work the tool, it is useless.

If your household is childless, have you learned to ask your pharmacist for non-childproof prescription bottles? Sometimes when I purchase an over-the-counter item like low dose aspirin, I face a real challenge opening it. I struggle and fume, because it’s difficult for me to press down the top and twist at the same time.

Sometimes a key works reluctantly. You have shoved it in the lock time after time, but all at once, it takes a few extra twists to make it work. This always happens when you are in a rush to get inside. You are burdened with armloads of packages or the telephone is ringing. More times than not, whoever is calling hangs up just as you reach the phone.

All this makes me wonder. Are we standing still or going backward in this world of technological advances?


Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter. Her column appears on Saturdays.