From the Back Nine: Under wraps

I needed more copier paper yesterday so I got out the next ream. It was wrapped in plastic with instructions: OPEN HERE. There was absolutely no reason for it to say OPEN HERE where it said OPEN HERE. No tab … no zip … no thread to pull.

I finally armed myself with an X-acto knife and slashed my way in, dealing with the issue like the level-headed adult I am.

And that is responsible for this snit.

The packaging industry is full of people wicked enough to replace Don Rickles. Sometimes they hide their evil ways under the label of, “For your convenience.” Then they give you a zip lock on your Muenster that could never really be shut if you slammed it in a fruit press. You may think it is sealed … but the next day, you have hard cheese (which, as you may know, is British slang for bad luck).

Sometimes packaging people laugh up their sleeve by saying that protective packaging is to keep us from shoplifting. The blister pack around the last carrot peeler I purchased was so impenetrable, I actually broke the peeler before I got the thing out.

Patience is not on my ever-decreasing list of virtues. And unpeeled carrots will work just fine for the rest of my life.

The real heyday for packaging people was the increased need for safety, pushing their impish imaginations into high gear.

It’s our own fault, of course, since the less-festive among us like to stick needles in Halloween candy. Remember in 1982 when funsters laced Tylenol with potassium cyanide? Ever since the resulting tamper-resistant packaging, I have been unable to open pills, much less overdose on them.

If you have grandkids, you’ve probably just been through a packaging war at Christmas. While it has been several years since I’ve had a small child for whom to buy presents, I am aware they like noisy stuff with lots of blinky lights and moving parts.

In my day, you simply opened the box. No more.

Packaging today involves reinforced cardboard, shrink wrap, glue, plastic retaining strips, filament tape, wire, and bubble wrap. All on the same toy. To open, you need scissors, a box cutter, screwdriver, your teeth, and a bench saw.

You will break a minimum of three finger nails and use language that you thought you had abandoned back in your schoolyard days.

It’s as frustrating to pay for all that packaging as it is to open it. Millions of foreign workers are required to strap Playful Puppy’s paws to that backboard or to individually wrap each xylophone key.

I used to complain about assembling the toy … now I complain about disassembling the package.

I guess we can all rest assured that, in case of nuclear attack, the merchandise in our stores will be safe from damage. If Homeland Security would just consult with the package makers, nobody would ever penetrate our borders.

Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors and author of the novel Fun House Chronicles, and the PI Bear Jacobs mystery series. Her newest novel, The Slightly Altered History of Cascadia: A Fantasy for Grown Ups, is now available at Contact her at or