– or ‘pile ’em high and sell ’em crap’ – and no, that’s not a typo. Cheap goods may not always be rubbish but the packaging sure is: what with hard-to-open tins, containers that don’t contain – and don’t get me started on cartons. ‘Simply tear across dotted line’ it said on the cartons of chopped tomatoes I’d bought to make a big pan of soup. OK then… so I pull, and nothing happens. Not wanting to risk spilling the stuff everywhere I reach for a sharp knife, the one that cuts through everything including the bread-board. Grasping the carton awkwardly with its ears lifted as per the diagram *, I commence slicing. Nothing happens. Wishing fervently to avoid slicing my finger off, I adjust the position of said finger and push harder. Suddenly the knife jerks across, causing the juice to spurt like blood from a jugular vein all across the stove and floor in a neat spatter-pattern, not forgetting also to christen the nice new white tea-towel nearby. After clearing it up and emptying the contents into the pan, I go to rinse the carton out. It’s then that I notice the small print: written in tiny letters across the dotted line I see the word:
This above all is the price you pay for your cheap goods – that you must suffer in gaining access to them. Cheap tins can be hard to open, even with a good tin-opener (I recently invested in a decent one from Fenwick’s since our other bog-standard ones have become terminally crap) the lid can be just that little bit too deep. You can’t say you’ve known true frustration until you’ve tried to open one of these on a skint Friday with nothing else in the house and twopence to last you the weekend.
Incidentally I can’t resist a Grammar Nazi-style comment on hyphenation here. You may think it Just Doesn’t Matter if you omit your little hyphens in an adjectival phrase such as ‘a hard-to-open’ tin – but I would remind you that ‘hard to open’ is a phrase which describes an action: as in, ‘it was hard to open it with that cheap tin opener’. Whereas hard-to-open describes an object: ‘I struggled with that hard-to-open tin’. OK?
So… cheap packaging. It’s not just tins, it’s things like bumper packs of muesli which open easily with one tear – except that the tear goes irresistibly all down one side allowing the muesli to spill out all over the table. It’s packets of cereal which refuse to yield to the subtle knife-sliding trick and have to be torn open so that they never seal again: it’s packets of tea which erupt in a Vesuvius of dried leaves in the cupboard. This is a game you cannot win: you are destined to lose some proportion of your goods in opening them, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Except buy the more expensive one, duh!
I’ll just finish with a link to Mark’s latest video. It’s really good and has had more than 100 views overnight:
PS Wow! I’ve just looked at my annual report for 2012. Over the year I had 8,200 views from 68 countries! Wow!
* that’s the ears of the carton, not my ears