Everyday packaging can be challenging

Published 1:52 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

I imagine it has happened to you. You’re in the grocery store. You’re in a hurry. You just need to snatch two or three items, check out, and rush home. You stop at the produce department, make your selection and reach for a plastic bag. That’s when the challenge occurs. I can’t get the thing open. I struggle. I mutter to myself. Somehow, with the passage of time, my fingertips just do not work as they once did. Finally, in desperation, and hoping nobody sees me, I moisten my thumb and second finger, and try again. It finally opens.

My intended “two or three” items are in the cart. Four or five “unintended” somehow landed there, too. I need to leave. Guess what? I choose the wrong checkout lane. There’s a delay relating to a credit card of the person in front of me in line. I wait, trying to be patient.

What a relief to get outside with my groceries and head for home. As I drive, I remember what happened. Then I think about some other things that frustrate me when I am in a hurry. There is one, thankfully that does not happen anymore. Remember how easy it once was to open a bottle of milk? You just reached for that little tab on the round cardboard stopper. It came right off. Quick and easy. Then along came waxed cartons. I hated those things. There at the top was something designed to be a spout. They never worked for me. I almost always wound up ripping the opening to pieces. The result of that was spilled milk every time I poured some out.

Packaging today can be so complicated. Take medicine bottles. Some of them come wrapped all over with plastic—thick plastic. You have to hunt for a place to grip to remove it so you can open the top.

And what about those prescription bottles with instructions to press down and turn? Oh, my malfunctioning fingertips. They just do not do the job. Recently I received a prescription by mail with instructions to press down on the top to open. It angered me. I had specifically requested non-child-proof caps. I struggled and struggled with it, then set it aside, waiting for someone to come by and help me with it. Someone did. I griped again as I watched a friend easily open it. Then I saw it. There was a little tag on the side. The cap came right off when you pressed it. I had jumped to conclusions and caused myself unnecessary frustration by not reading the directions carefully.

I admit those zipper tops that appear on plastic bag packaging today are an improvement. Most of the time, I handle them well unless I tear or cut them too close on top. Then I am challenged again.

My latest frustration was a key that refused to turn. Upon my son’s advice, I grabbed a lubricant can. I sprayed. It worked. Hurray!


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.