Pardon Me, But Could You Open This For Me?

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Now I am all in favour of keeping the public safe from injuries. I understand the need for child-proof containers even if most children could open the containers in seconds whilst us old geezers will need to spend hours trying to open the damned things and will eventually have to flag down some little tot on his or her way home from kindergarten to open it for them.

I understand the need for warnings on all medical, mechanical, cleaning and food products lest some bozo accidentally harm his or herself or cause serious harm or poisoning to some other bozo dumb enough to require the original bozo’s assistance even though they should know better since they had been poisoned or injured by the same bozo just days before. But oft-times the manufacturer’s precautionary solution is worse that the possible injury or poisoning. Or to put it more succinctly, the solution is almost always worse than the problem.

Give me a moment to dry my tears of frustration . . . thank you.

Today I purchased a 30 ml. bottle of Life Decongestant Nasal Spray with hope of curing an annoying case of runny nose syndrome that is costing me a fortune in Kleenex tissues and a considerable amount of wear and tear on my sleeve. Had I known, however, that the bottler of said product had sealed the screw top in a tamper resistant wrap of the same substance used to keep the nose cone on an Atlas rocket from falling off, I would have found another product or just let my nose run.

Foolishly I tried to open my nose spray without any mechanical device whatsoever and within a matter of minutes realized I needed help. Since there was no five-year-old child handy with the wherewithal to remove the wrap I tried to peel it back with my fingernail and failed. Only slightly daunted, I switched to gnawing at it with my teeth even though my dental hygienist had warned me about the danger involved in using one’s teeth as an opener – in that case it was a bottle of Innis and Gunn Scottish Golden Beer. (Scotland does not at the moment have the ability to understand the technology of the twist-top.)

Fortunately an elderly woman of 50 happened by and heard me weeping. With a ‘there, there now, old codger, let me help,’ unscrewed the top and hobbled off to her Pickle-ball game.

My problem of course is not just the fact that the wrapping is impossible to remove; it is why did they feel it necessary to put it there in the first place? Are people in the habit of walking down nasal spray aisle of a drug store, opening two or three bottles and sniffing? Do we really need all these safety devices and warning labels on every damned thing we see for sale? There are labels and warnings on everything in the stores, some may be necessary, like deadly poisons, explosive devices, but not, oddly enough, on nasal sprays that are capable of causing nervous breakdowns and the loss of fingers, and/or teeth.

On the other hand there are companies out there who really care for their customers and carefully research the needs and limitations of the folks eager to buy their product. A fine example is Arm and Hammer who obviously looked deeply into the needs of Mr. and Mrs. Consumer and designed the packaging to make it easy for the average purchaser to use, and more important, open their product.

Granted they are not always successful. For instance, their Super Scoop cat litter is an excellent product. Nickolas, our feline companion, meows quite highly of its quality and the attention the company obviously put into the deodorizing ability of the aforementioned littler. However, similar to the Life people they erred. They assumed that most cat associates have a chain saw or access to dynamite to open the box from whence the product will eventually come if and when a mumbling litter changer can get the flipping thing open.

I was most fortunate to have been conned some years ago into buying a Ginza knife that can cut through steel, wood or in this case a cardboard box. By simply dropping to my knees on cold cement basement floor I can, in less than an hour, saw the damned thing open while Nick looks on with a stupid grin on his face.

And another thing…  hey! My nose stopped running.

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