Our lives seem to be sealed in plastic by Bob Karolevitz I like a hot dog on a bun now and then, but that little plastic-encapsuled packet of mustard is not only a gosh-awful challenge for me; it also ruins what is supposed to be a gastronomical treat.
�I can�t get the danged thing open,� I complain angrily to Phyllis. Then I gnash into it with my teeth, with about as much success as I had with my frustrated fingers.
Finally, when I do manage to force a tiny hole in one end, I get mustard all over my hands, under my fingernails and down the front of my tunic.
Why they bother to print �tear here� instructions on the flap is beyond me!
I�m all for child-proof packaging. It�s the adult-proof kind that I have trouble with.
Everything seems to be encased in plastic now. The folks over in China and Taiwan � which is where most of our stuff comes from these days � must chuckle a lot when they send over tools, toys and toggle switches we can hardly get at without a knife.
It�s anti-American, that�s what it is!
Take the ribbons for my typewriter, for instance. In order to ship them all the way from Mexico � which is where those almost-obsolete things are made � they�ve got to be protected by a plastic cocoon, which drives me nuts when I need a new ribbon in a hurry.
Then there are those flimsy sacks we get at the supermarket. It�s getting so I hate the question �paper or plastic?� I should ask for a biodegradable bag every time, but I don�t.
Now that the snow is gone, our road ditches disclose their plastic throw-a-ways for all of us to see. Wind-driven plastic bags flap in the fences or are caught up in the trees. It must be great fun to toss them out.
But I digress!
Getting back to hard-to-open containers, I put cereal box inserts in that category. I don�t like ragged ends, but now they heat-seal the package shut so that I can�t get at my Puffed Wheat without tearing into it.
The same is true of the 12-pack toilet paper bundles. What looks so good on the grocery shelf becomes a frayed mess when you rip into it to get a roll.
Even our magazines now come in a see-through cover. You need a scissors to get them out. Most of the contents is advertising anyhow, so it�s hardly worth the effort.
Foodstuffs like cheese slices and pressed ham are wrapped in the stuff. Even aspirin bottles have plastic sealers which are hard to remove so you can tackle the child-proof lids.
The time will probably come when babies are delivered in a plastic bag. Nothing surprises me anymore.
The worst, though, is still that little packet of mustard. I cringe at the fast-food place when I get one for my frankfurter.
Before I get the yellow stuff to ooze out, I�m usually so surly that it takes all the patience Phyllis can muster to calm me down. Besides that, she knows that she�ll have to wash out my mustarded shirt.
It�s obvious that I come from another era when we got our condiments for our hot dogs from a jar. You didn�t have to �tear here� then.
� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz