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WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES? (or…How did your day go?)

June 10, 2011 by · 7 Comments 


It’s Monday morning, just a little after 10:30.  I am up and out early for a change.  An eight o’clock doctor’s appointment that required fasting from the night before has just been completed.  I am extremely hungry and craving for coffee.  Of course, having to wait an hour after my scheduled appointment time to see the doctor doesn’t help.  I asked if they would pay me my “normal” hourly wage for waiting.  They just laughed and walked away.

I pull into a local fuel station.  Today I am buying gasoline.  I look at the price – $3.74 and 9/10 cents a gallon.  I think, “That’s stupid”.  Why do we persist on pricing fuel with 9/10 of a penny at the end?  Does it somehow make us think we are getting a better deal?  Think of how much money that could be saved on signage, pump gauges, labor, and advertising.  Just the cost of the extra plastic, steel, ink or neon needed to display that 9/10th of a penny could possibly pay down the national debt.

I go inside to grab a coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnut.  I’m confronted with no less than twenty coffee carafes sitting on warming plates in front of me.  The first one says Amaretto, or something like that, and the list continues down to the last – Vanilla.  All I want is a cup of plain old coffee – and I see none.  I say something to the girl behind the counter.  She sort of grunts and points to a pot marked Dark Roast.  I grab a cup and pour.

The next counter is where you put whatever in your coffee.  I look for sugar.  All I see are pink, blue, and yellow packages containing chemicals I cannot even pronounce.  Finally, I see the sugar in little brown packages burried under the blue ones.

Back on the road, I make a stop at Lowe’s.  There I purchase a set of four ratcheting tie downs.  I only need two, but you must buy four.  OK – I guess I will eventually need two more.  On the way to the register, I spy a bunch of tools in the center isle.  I stop to look.  Hot dog, they have a package that has a bunch of hex driver bits that are about 3 inches long.  Yes, I need those, so into the cart they go.

When I return to my car in the parking lot, I notice a big black mark across the bright red back bumper cover.  There is a sizeable chunk of red paint missing.  It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out someone has hit the bumper with the tire on their vehicle while attempting to park in the undersized spots.  No note, of course, no witnesses, or anything.  Boy, my insurance company will love me for this one.  Looks like another $100 out of my shrinking wallet for the deductible.

My next stop is Wal-Mart.  I need some speaker wire.  I find it at the back of the store in the automotive section.  But, it is in a solid hard plastic box that is locked to the display rack.  I cannot remove it.  With some effort, I find an “Associate” who unlocks the spool of speaker wire from the rack – but she does not hand it to me.  Instead, she informs me that I can pick it up and pay for it at the customer service counter on the way out.  I ask, “Why?”  She replies, “They get stolen”.  With a puzzled look, I say, “But, the wire only costs $10.  The radios next to them are $200 and they have no locks.”  She shrugs her shoulders and walks toward the customer service counter – I follow.

Once at the customer service counter I encounter a long line of people with returns and exchanges.  There is no express line for picking up speaker wire brought by Associates for customers willing to pay cash.  I now see why it gets stolen.  Rather than wait in the long line, I leave without the wire.  Maybe Radio Shack will be more customer friendly?

Once at home I bring my purchases into the garage.  I try to open the ratchet straps.  The hard plastic package is welded together on all four sides.  I try to cut it open with a razor knife.  With difficulty, I get one end open but there is a bunch of little welded tabs all over the package.  I keep hacking with the razor knife wondering if any one has ever launched a successful lawsuit for cutting off a hand while trying to open a package.  Finally, I get the package open.  But, the straps are secured to the back with plastic zip ties.  I must use a pair of wire cutters to get them out of the package.

The hex bits from Lowe’s prove to be even more of a challenge.  I give up, take them to my bandsaw, and saw all of the edges off.  I then insert a big screwdriver and pry the top off.  This is ridiculous!  What ever happened to zip open baggies and paper?

I am waiting for a service person to replace the timer on the dishwasher.  He is supposed to be here between 1:00 and 4:00.  It is now 4:00 and no service person.  I call the operator and give them my claim number.  She tells me I failed to answer a call confirming my appointment yesterday – so they canceled the service call.  “What?”  I respond in alarm, “I made an appointment, we confirmed it.  I made it for today since I was not at home yesterday!”  She tells me she is sorry but that is company policy.  She offers to reschedule.  I tell her, “No thanks, I’ll call someone else.”  I will wash dishes for Nancy by hand in the sink at least one more night.

Nancy wants me to grill the pork chops for dinner.  We have a gas grill.  The piezo lighter thingie quit working long ago, so I have to light it with a match or butane lighter.  I have a butane match style lighter in my right hand.  It has a long tip so I can poke it through a hole in the grill over the burner.  I turn on the propane to the grill and then a burner.  When I attempt to light the butane match nothing happens – it will not work.  I pull it out and look.  It has a “child safety” switch that must be held down with one hand while pulling the trigger with the other.  I poke it back into the hole and with both hands manage to get the thing to light.  WOOSH – the propane that collected in the grill while I was trying to get the butane lighter to work explodes.  So much for my eyebrows and child safety features.

We finally sit down at the dinner table.  Nancy sets a new, unopened bottle of salad dressing next to me.  Once again, I must find a Bowie Knife or pull a switchblade to cut the outer seal.  Inside is another seal.  It has a little pull tab.  I pull and the tab comes off leaving the seal behind.  It’s a good thing I did not put the machete away.

After such a rough day, I decide to take some analgesic pain reliever for my splitting headache.  So, I go to the bathroom and find a bottle – it’s a plastic bottle.  I can’t get it open.  I try to read the instructions, but the print is so small I need my glasses, which are some distance away in the living room.  I retrieve my glasses.  The instructions are filled with warnings and disclaimers, as well as five languages I do not speak.  Finally, I learn that you must line up two arrows – one on the cap and the other on the bottle, and then push up.  Mission accomplished!  The cap pops off.  But, alas, there is another seal that has no tab to pull.  I find a pair of scissors in the medicine cabinet and stab at the seal.  It finally breaks.  But now there is a ball of cotton deeply implanted in the bottle that I cannot reach with my fingers.  Once again, I search the medicine cabinet and find tweezers that I use to pull out a wad of cotton as big as a tennis ball.  I take two tablets out of the bottle and wash them down with a big gulp of Coke.  The bottle goes with me to my basement workshop where I go to work.

The tab on the medicine bottle is cut off with my Dremel tool so I can open it the next time I have a headache.  A toothpick is jammed in the safety latch on the lighter with a few drops of epoxy glue to defeat the lock.  I sharpen my Buck knife because I know it will be needed to open future containers.  I just hope I don’t cut myself trying to open the stupid packages everything now comes in.



7 Responses to “WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES? (or…How did your day go?)”
  1. Jon says:

    When a day goes like that it is time just to go to bed and cover your head with a blanket!

  2. Doofus says:

    Several years ago I received a nice Buck knife to carry backpacking on Christmas eve from one of my children. My grandson needed one of those hard plastic packages opened so I wihpped out my new, very sharp Buck knife and opened it…I also opened a 3 inch gash in the palm of my hand. I missed Christmas eve dinner with my family as I spend 4 hrs in the Emerg Room getting stiches!
    I can relate…..

  3. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Prof 95 Randy,

    Just another remarkable day at the old RunningStar Ranch!!!!!

    Smooth roads, clear skies & balmy breezes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. jimjan says:

    Hi Randy,

    I can relate. It seems that many of our hard earned dollars are spent on wages for people who design those little tabs and welded plastic dimples with nary a thought to the frustration of the customer. I dare say some of that money along with the money saved by abolishing the “9/10th” on the gas pumps would surely put the country’s finances into a surplus.

    See you down the road

  5. John Hagen says:

    Sadly, I have too many of those days… It seems the older I get the less tolerant I am of stupid stuff. Like sitting at a Flying J waiting for the guy in front of me at the diesel pums to finish up. He’s done, hangs up the hose and goes shopping for 20 minutes or so before moving his rig. I wish I was that important!

    What has happened to us? We have a few folks who make it difficult for the rest of us. One guy created all this hassle with the package seals (remember the guy who put poison in the medicine capsuls). Store shoplifters make us buy packages that cause us injuries when we try to open something we paid for.

    The best thing about camping is getting away from folks like that and being alone with peace and quiet. Okay, sometimes we get peace and quiet… other times the annoying ones are right next door!

  6. Sounds like my kind if day.

  7. William Guy says:

    I hate the plastic clamshell packages. I know one of these days I will slash a wrist and die while trying to get them open. Have been working on my computer. Why does every plug in or instruction on any electronics have to be in tiny letters engraved on black plastic? Its not like they don't have acres of space on the back of a cabinet or monitor that's out of sight that they could use for larger print. My pet peeves are reserved for model numbers or software passwords that are either so tiny that you can.t tell which is a B or an 8 or which is a l or a 1 -don't even get me started on their use of of capital O and zeros which necessitate several tries to get the password typed in right. Also include illegible "captcha" letters.t.

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