Sunday, June 03, 2007

writing for lemons: part I

No, this isn’t a piece about being paid for your writing with lemons. It’s part one of writing for lemons. Confused?

Well let me back up a bit.


It all began when I got frustrated with the Fort Knox of packaging that encased a pair of pruning shears I’d bought on sale at Target. I could not, for the life of me, get the gosh-golly-darn shears out of the plastic tomb they lay in.

After fingers and teeth failed to unravel the seal, I took a large pair of kitchen scissors to the thinnest edge of the package. Then I took my electric carving knife to it. And finally, I ran into the garage and revved up my newly acquired electric hedge clippers. But all to no avail. The shears lay ensconced in plastic, allowing quick-and-easy, front-and-back view, but zero access.

Thinking there must be some new-fangled way into the case, I flipped it over and started reading the instructions printed on the back. Now what’s the point of putting all those words on a package when NO ONE can read them because the font is Times New Roman point-minus-three !

I grabbed the Sherlock Holmes type magnifying glass that I keep with my kitchen utensils …


“Do not chew or swallow casing. Do no cut hair with shears. Do not allow children to play with blades. Do not run with shears. Do not …”

Everything but HOW TO GET THE IJEET SHEARS OUT OF THE PLASTIC CASE.

Grrr. I sat down at the breakfast table and sipped the coffee that had gone cold during the 30 minutes I'd spent fiddling with the shears. And then it occurred to me. Even though they had omitted the crucial step—the key to unlocking the plastic tomb—a writer had actually sat down and written all that junk on the back of the shears.

I rolled my eyes and wondered if it was the copy editor who'd cut the line: “Here’s how to open …”



Part two of writing for lemons next week

23 comments:

kj said...

what a riot, bibi! and i appreciate your acknowledgement of those $$@&&* plastic wrappers that are impossible to penetrate. what's with that, anyway? i have this problem with the cartridges for my printer. I am twisting and turning my scissors and cursing all the while.

best wishes and be well!

Ant said...

What are "running shears"? My bamboozlement comes from the instruction: "Do not run with shears"...

Oh, hang on, just re-read it - you said "pruning shears", that makes a bit more sense...

I'm still going to click "Publish Your Comment" though.

Kiyotoe said...

I had this same problem last weekwhen I bought ome fancy doo-hickie for the little lady's car. It took us 30 in the parking lot before we decide to go back into the store and have them open it.

it only seemed right to me that they finish the job they started when they sold us the item.... ;)

Ian Lidster said...

If you want to open a childproof pill bottle, then get a child to show you how to do it. Seriously, though, with our obsessive (and wasteful) packaging I often wonder how some poor old dear with arthritis doesn't die of starvation since I, a relatively fit middle-aged dude have such a horrible problem getting things open.
Anyway, Vicki, this was very funny and very true and I look forward to the next installment.
Ian

peteknowles said...

Hah! Have I been there. "They" are so worried someone will steal an item or poison food/aspirin (what does that say about society) that everything comes overwrapped.
Even my 30-year old son complains he can't open jars sometimes. So i have to concur with Ian's comment, How do the elderely or infirm cope?

deirdre said...

I've used every swear word in my vocabulary in the process of opening that kind of packaging. Doesn't it occur to manufacturers that the buyer may actually want to use the thing they've bought?

Cazzie!!! said...

It must be a symptom of all Tarjay stores worldwide..toys for my kids are packed so tight in cable ties and bubble wrap nd vacuum sealed plastic that they take forever to open gahhhh..

Percy said...

nice post Bibi,

Warning labels. Visiting London we traveled via The Tube extensively and train in Austria. Those places had long steep unnerving escalators that resembled a game of chutes and ladders more than it resembled reality. But the first thing I noticed was the lack of WARNING placards with 25+ points of safety listed for how to use the escalators that you find beside each unit in the US.

Packaging is such a waste of resources – the only thing it is good for is the landfill – which is a shame, what a waste. Maybe the packaging should be reusable? Maybe the hard plastic shell of your shears – once the shears are freed from the enclosure - could then serve as a bowl for your morning porridge and the little side pocket where the warranty card was placed could hold your jam? Plastic Tea cups? Not a problem. Machine washable too.

A consortium of packaging companies could get together and develop interlocking units for post-reuse. Interlock to build a little green house or perhaps foundation wear (got to sort out the pinching issue at the joints first though).

Pamela said...

made me smile... and then grimace. yesterday it took me 1/2 hour to open the lunch meat for husbands sandwich. it was one that reseals. But we couldn't get to it.

I do like bubble wrap, however. POP!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

This is irony distilled. Hurrah!

Bibi said...

Well, seems I'm not the only one who has issues with packaging! ;-)

kj, be well too.

ant, oh, I have running shears too ...

kiyotoe, too right they should finish the job they started.

ian, don't get me started on child-proof bottles. I can never get in them!

pete, I think they starve or have to wait until Hercules visits.

deidre, obviously the manufacturers are oblivious ... maybe I should send these comments to them, LOL.

Bibi said...

cazzie, aha you have Tar-jay in Australia?!

percy ... is that really you?? I like your suggestion about recycling ... maybe I could make a million from my creation and get on 'the big idea'.

pamela, mmmm, popping bubble wrap IS fun!

ultra toast, why thank you mosha god!!

benjibopper said...

i once lived in the house of a man who worked for the water company. you guessed it, there was no running water.

Keshi said...

omg toys take longer to open than kids cud really play with em b4 breaking em!

Keshi.

dinahmow said...

Looking forward to Part II, Vicki.What more can you possibly say about #%$!*&^!!packaging?

Bibi said...

benjibopper, LOL, that figures!

keshi, sounds as though you've had experience with that.

dinahmow, ... not packaging, but related. ;-)

Ces said...

Hahaha! Those plastic wrappers are terrible. Who reads instructions? They are either in Chinese or Spanish. I sustained a laceration trying to rip open a plastic case once. Dang!

DesLily said...

We won't discuss the numerous cuts and bruises one gets fighting with molded plastic encasements.. oh forbid they should put sharp tools and such behind a locked glass encasement free of such bindings.. but then that would mean they would have to give someone a much needed job to wait on customers..oh forbid they should do that!

as for jar opening.. i have that down to a science! You need to keep the old fashioned bottle opener in your house. The kind that opens bottles at one end and has the pointy end at the other for poking holes in cans.. take that pointy end en catch it under the edge of any bottle you can't open and push on it until you hear the "pop" that the vacuum has been released.. taaa daaa.. the top opens easily!

Yasmine Galenorn said...

I have sliced my fingers so many times on that hard plastic wrapping they put on things...I keep a couple sharp knives around and stab through it with those, then cut from the punctured spot. An ice pick works too. *grins*

Yasmine

Bibi said...

Ce ... ouch ... be careful (says she who's stabbed herself many times).

Deslily, really!! Sounds like a good solution for the jars ...I use a rubber kitchen glove (a la Martha Stewart ha ha).

Yasmine, yep, I've done that too, but nothing worked with this package!

lisag said...

Oh brilliant! Hit it right on.

MSU gal said...

i remember how we laughed at the "packaging majors" at the university. now they are laughing at us. you think that's bad, it took me hours to open all the toys Santa left the B-girl at Christmas. I felt like I missed most of the holiday!

Bibi said...

Lisag, cheers!

MSU Gal, I can only imagine. ;-O