Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Escalating War Between Packaging and Older Adults

 In the conflict between product packaging and older adults the score is something on the order of 347,805,719 to 911 in favor of the packaging.  I am proud to say that a couple of those hard fought victories for us mature humans can be credited to me.  But all the joy of those triumphs vanished this morning in a triple defeat by a single product: a tube of Crest toothpaste.

Defeat number 1 came attempting to open the box.  I’m sure that most of you who still buy toothpaste in a tube have encountered the manufacturers’ new trick targeted at social security recipients: gluing the outside tab on the end of the box to the two fold-over flaps underneath.  If questioned, I’m sure the manufactures claim this is to reduce loss – you know those desperate toothpaste thieves who open the box, put the tube in their pocket, and put the re-closed box back on the shelf.  I doubt this is a big an issue as they claim but they are certainly serious about their solution as the glue presently used is much stronger and the cardboard is now plastic coated to reduce the potential for ripping open the carton.  Simply inserting a thumbnail and pressing down did nothing this morning.  I assumed I had a defective box and flipped to the other end – same story.  I had to resort the insertion of a metal object to pry the flap loose. Product packing 1 – discouraged old guy 0. 

Defeat number 2 came when I attempted to remove the cap from the tube.  I have been doing this for almost 70 years without difficulty and have observed hundreds of small children successfully completing this task.  Today my causal grip on the tube and cap failed to rotate the cap a tenth of a degree.  I tried reversing my hands to no avail. This cap must have been tightened using the same wrench they use to tighten the head bolts on race cars!  Staring that the opponent in unbelief, I grabbed the tube with a manly grip between my legs while bending over and the cap in my right hand as if I were advancing a large screw into aged oak.  It did finally break lose and I would have shot toothpaste halfway across the bathroom except for problem 3.  Product packing 2 – feeble nursing home candidate 0. 

The third defeat, and possibly the most humiliating, came when I saw this little piece of aluminum foil covering the opening of the tube.  What the #&%@ is this?  Does some idiot who works for Crest believe that someone is going to break through the end flaps of the box and have a wrench in their pocket to remove the cap so they can tamper with the toothpaste?  Really!!  Completely bamboozled by the presence of this little dot of aluminum, I surrendered to the notion that I will have to remove it if I want to brush my teeth and get to work before tomorrow.  Being unusually observant for my advanced years, I notice that the little dot has a tab projecting from one side. For once, I think I have caught a break and can easily remove the little bugger.  Wrong again.  The little tab is so little (and so slick) I cannot get a grip on it with my thumb and forefinger.  Yes, I tried both hands.  No, I am not going downstairs and get a pair of pliers from the tool box.  I figure that since my teeth are the ones which will benefit if I ever get the “product” open, they should help out.  So, my front teeth bite down on the micro-tab and I pull the tube away from my face using both hands.  It comes loose.  I notice that the little dot of aluminum foil is layered with Mylar to make it more tear resistant.  Good for the maleficent design engineer.  Product Packaging 3 – shriveled up ancient homo-sapiens 0.

Several years ago at Christmas time, I was introduced to Sarah Groves song “Toy Packaging” and we fell in love with it because it is so true.  Since then, I have become more aware of all kinds packaging and how much harder it is to open it, especially for older folks.  This seems like a simple thing to fix: just notify the manufacturers and they would be glad to correct the problem. Right!  Well, that hasn’t happened and, in fact, it is getting more difficult.  Being a bit of a skeptic, I began to think there must be some reason for this.  I don’t have enough proof to nail this completely, but there seems to be a secret conspiracy at work.  Companies involved in marketing directly to consumers have been, through dummy corporations, purchasing large blocks of nursing home stock.  They have also engaged services of attorneys representing population limitation advocacy groups.  There are draft laws waiting to be introduced that add another test for determining the competency of older adults: if they can’t open their packages the are judged to be incompetent and are ordered to a nursing home for the rest of their lives.  How can we fight back against this threat to our freedom?  Buy organic – Mother Nature does not do Product Packaging!


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