Disturbing trends in packaging (idea)
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I just bought a small mouse for a laptop, and it's sitting on the desk, right here next to the keyboard, but it might as well be a million miles away. It's encased in thick bulletproof, weatherproof, openproof plastic.
It is impossible to open the package without hurting yourself. If you try, you will slice your fingers open in a far more gruesome way than fishknives can. It’s the kind of wound emergency room surgeons gasp at. “How’d you do this?,” they’d ask. “Opening an unopenable plastic package again? Silly moo.”
The packaging designers do not permit you to open their packages easily, if at all. There is no convenient label that says: Easy-Open Crease Right Here, with a nice yellow arrow. No. You cannot open these packages with normal scissors. They take the edge right off scissors and knives. Near as I can tell, the only way you can open these things is with a small shaped charge. The downside to this is that it might destroy the actual contents. It puzzles me why Cartier jewelry and Rolex watches aren't wrapped in these packages, because at least these are worth the additional time and investment to protect them from the unwashed masses. But no, instead, the indestructible, impenetrable plastic packages seem to protect things that are only $10 or $20 in value.
Pretty much any electronic widget you buy from CompUsa or Best Buy is like this: mice, those tiny solid state hard drives that slot into USB ports, iPod clones. At grocery stores, it’s men’s high value razor blades. One wonders: who wants to protect us from razor blades? They’re safety razors. At sports stores, it’s gloves for golf, baseball, racketball, bicycling, and weightlifting. Who knew these were Hot Items? I’ve never seen them sold off the backs of those suspicious trucks you see on Saturday mornings. Music stores have the worst, most devious kind of packaging, though. If you’ve ever tried to buy a DVD or a CD, you know what I mean. The plastic packaging around DVDs is extra thick. Plus, there’s an evil looking electronic sensor inside every one that, whether or not the pimple-faced checkout clerk swipes it over the demagnetization panel, will set off the audible shoplifting alarm and activate the yellow lights even though you just paid for it.
The Sears small tools section is an orgiastic feast of impenetrable packaging. I picture a dumpy, middle-aged packaging account manager sipping Mai Tais at a beach house in Puerto Vallarta because of the Sears deal. Every tool that’s hand sized is encased in plastic. Even the buck knife I wanted to buy to open these packages was itself encased in same. I found that ironic. I wanted to buy the knife just to open the very package it was in! ARRRGH! Sears could up the sales of their knives a hundredfold if it would advertise them as being able to cut through these clear packages.
The plastic is so tough that even the knives the local Hecht’s department store sales guys sell can’t cut it. I know because I’ve tried. One day I saw a man in an apron and a lip mike advertising his Ginsu knives on a raised stage with food all around his display booth, and he was making quick work of onions, celery and other sundry biological things. Never loses its edge! Cuts through anything! Wonderful!, I thought, and ran down to the tools department to quickly purchase a plastic package. I hurried up to the sales guy, and when he was making these claims, I asked him if he could just swipe his knife through the thin part of the package, which is where I always try first. To his credit, he knew when he had met his match. He ignored me and began scanning around for the closest security guard.