Packaging is an anomaly sent to try the most patient and coordinated among us.
Not only is there too much of it, but most of it doesn’t work in the manner in which it promises. You need a Product-Opening Conversion Table and an 11-year-old lad.
‘Tear along the dotted line’ can be translated to mean ‘Cover your feet liberally with birdseed,’ ‘Open this end’ means ‘The other end’s even crappier,’ ‘Cut here’ means ‘Perforations are too expensive’.
What was wrong with tootling along to the grocer’s and asking for half a pound of whatever and having it weighed out into a brown paper bag? Sod all, Your Honour. It was simply a matter of taking it home and transferring it into the ol’ bakelite canister – where you were pretty sure you’d find it again on opening the lid unless Uncle Albert found it first and had his wooden teeth installed.
As with everything simple, the smartarses had to get involved. Biscuits have to firstly go into a plastic tray, which is sealed into a cellophane thing and then put in a box. Go figure. Each of these receptacles then has to be squashed into your kitchen bin, on top of the other 300 discarded wrappers you’ve had to wrangle with since breakfast. Too bad if you’ve got PMT and are known for suffering from chronic domestic discoordination.
But the natural enemy of any modern-day packaging is the 11-year-old lad. If you have one, don’t let it anywhere near a tissue box. There’s this little perforated oval on top of the common or garden tissue box, which you are invited to press out. Then there’s a bit of plastic with a slit in it, through which the first tissue can presumably be pulled if you have an hour to spare and are adept with surgical forceps.
If you are an 11-year-old lad, however, you attach one end of the tissue box to the tailpipe of the family car, the other end to the rotor blades of a malfunctioning lawnmower and offer the resultant mess to a passing dog. Oh, that’s not what he did? Could have fooled me.
‘I was just trying to help,’ he told me with a desecrated offering held out in front of him. It was several minutes before I could even work out what it had been.
It’s much the same protocol with cereal boxes. An 11-year-old lad will find it necessary to completely mutilate the exterior box in order to find the plastic bag. If the outside of the box indicates the addition of a plastic caveman – or even a dumb card with parrots on it – be prepared to sweep the entire contents of the box straight into your wheelie bin. You might as well do this anyway, because when he attempts to open the plastic bag it will just rip straight down the side from top to bottom. He’ll say ‘whoops’, which won’t be any consolation. Then he’ll say, ‘Who cares – it was only a dumb card with a parrot on it.’
There should be a warning on the top of the box like those TV censorship symbols. Tissue boxes should be rated R – nobody under 18 should be permitted to attempt opening them. This is because you buy them for the aesthetic appeal and there isn’t any of that left after it’s been savaged by your 11-year-old lad. Cereal boxes should be PG – not to be opened without a parent supervising. The only containers for which it would be necessary to apply a G rating would be those childproof pill bottles – because once you’ve turned 18 you haven’t a hope in hell of opening one. You need to call in an 11-year-old lad. It’s a well known fact all grandparents have to ask their grandchildren for help. Nicely. Pretending they’ve mislaid their spectacles.
Package-opening accidents can be avoided if you shop when your children are at school. This way, you can open everything yourself, before they get home.
It’s the only way you’ll ever get an entire set of parrot cards all to yourself.