Untouchable merchandise

Elise T. Chisolm

November 05, 1991|By Elise T. Chisolm

EVER TRIED to open a new compact disc in five seconds? Or get your new toothbrush out of the plastic in which it's entombed?

Tried to get a new pair of panty hose out of its wrappings in less than one minute, especially if it's encased in a cute plastic egg?

Tried to get a small toy car or doll out of the package for a screaming 2-year-old without the scissors?

I, for one, am fed up with trying to extract small objects from large plastic bubbles.

Just last week while driving on an interstate I tried to remove the ''show-casing'' surrounding a new hair brush.

Here's the scenario.

I'm in a hurry, I am driving fast. I am late due to a long-distance call from a garrulous cousin, and I need to brush my hair, immediately. I had on my best clothes but I'd forgotten to do my hair. And no, I'm not one of those women who put on eyeliner while driving, so don't write in.

I put the car on cruise control and try to open the package with my right hand, keeping my left hand on the steering wheel at all times, I promise.

No dice, I'm getting nowhere.

The hair brush is sealed in a coffin of hard molded plastic of a bulbous design.

I try tearing, then I try using my teeth. But I like my teeth, and so far they are my own, so I am careful. I think about Edward Scissorhands, and long for him. Or a saw, a blow torch, or a friendly rat.

What do I care that passing trucks look down at me and wonder why I am eating heavy plastic? I am now fearless.

My kids have tried to get me to carry a Swiss army knife, but that would just add to the two-ton weight of my tired pocketbook, which airlines already view with suspicion when I check through.

Did I ever get the brush out of the plastic wrap? Sure, after I pulled over to the shoulder, found a large rock and clobbered the molded plastic and freed the brush.

In a world of too much waste material, non-biodegradable stuff and no more room at the landfills, manufacturers remain obsessed with over-packaging and hermetically sealed products.

Would I like to go back to the good old days when things were easier to get into?

Yes. Back to the days when hammers were hung on pegs at hardware stores, unsealed; when tweezers were in a bin at the drugstore, unsealed.

When you could open a medicine bottle in one second, not five minutes. When you could get to your fork, knife and spoon on the airplane tray without resorting to eating the chicken l'orange and the cherry pudding with your hands.

Back to the hair brush -- I have in front of me now the plastic ''show'' box, the one I crushed.

Heck, it could have been used for a Barbie bathtub. Instead it is going to the already overcrowded dump.

Cosmetics are especially difficult. Getting a lipstick out of its shrine is a task for Houdini.

I asked a department store clerk why they are doing this to us.

And she explained that the heavier the plastic the harder it is for shoplifters; the store has less theft with the heavy plastic casings.

Also it was for sanitary purposes. But I'd rather have a hair brush with store dust on it than have to resort to violence.

Over-sealing, over-wasting -- have you tried to open a box of frozen peas in a hurry? Only a hatchet will do the job.

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