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Life’s Perforations

(Photo Illustration by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

We have two cats. Bought a twelve-pack of canned Friskies at the store. Looking at the box I saw that the top was perforated. A section of the box made to be “easily” removed to efficiently dispense the cans of food. You would think at my advanced age I would know better than to believe that the section would actually tear on the perforations as designed. To make a long story short they didn’t. The end result was the total destruction of the box and the cans neatly stacked below the feeding station.

It would be one thing if this only occurred with certain brands or types of products. But unfortunately, it seems to be an “across the board” affliction, common to all perforated products. I’m trying to picture a high-powered CEO laying his or her head on the pillow at night with a nice big smile believing that his perforated products are working flawlessly across the globe. In reality the carefully designed packaging is in a thousand pieces at the bottom of the nearest trash reciprocal as the red-faced consumer stomps off to deal with the next frustration.

Unintended Consequences of Helpful Packaging

Some of you might be old enough to remember “easy open” soda cans. You grabbed the little circle tab, pulled on it, and off it came, to be discarded. And just what was the unintended consequence of those tiny little tabs all over the place? The tabs often ended up in automobile tires causing flats. So now we have the “pull it up and push it back down tab” that stays with the soda can and motorists across America can go back to worrying about nails again.

Tylenol

Twelve-year-old Mary Kellerman died on September 29,1982 after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol. Adam Janus was also a casualty. While mourning his loss Adam’s brother and sister-in-law unknowingly took pills from the same bottle. In all seven people died from bottles of Tylenol that had been laced with potassium cyanide. No one was ever charged or arrested for this crime.

Packaging Advancements

If you are unfamiliar with this story you are very aware of the resulting changes to a host of products. Everything from medicine to common household cleaning products now require tamper proof lids, seals, and other safety measures before being dispensed to the public.

Some Final Thoughts

I doubt anyone really gives much thought to the added cost of all the tamperproof advancements. I suppose it’s a fair trade-off to make our lives a little safer. My wife and I are convinced that so-called “child-proof” caps should be re-labeled “adult proof” caps. A degree in quantum physics is often needed to acquire the contents of our purchases. Product directions in ten different languages confound rather than simplify.

The next time you are looking at that cardboard container and see those little “snake-like” lines you will probably do the same thing I did. Just think to yourself, “What if it works this time?”

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