> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
— Frederick Douglass
One of the character traits anyone must possess in order to have a happy, fulfilled life is to know your own strengths. Even more important is to know your weaknesses and shortcomings. If you don’t think you have any or don’t recognize your own, someday after you get married they will be made imminently clear to you.
Using that as a bit of a precursor I will freely admit to my lack of mechanical skills and aptitude. One of my co-workers will kid me about being a writer. One of his running gags involves anything I do of a physical nature. When I talk about cutting grass he will act surprised and mockingly ask, “You’re a freelance writer, don’t you hire that out?”
Ironically this guy used to build houses; from the ground floor up, using his own hands and with the expertise to utilize tools. If someone put one of those nail guns in my hand it would be the equivalent of laying a loaded handgun in a baby’s crib. It would just be a matter of time before something tragic would occur.
This is all leading to a pet peeve of mine which involves product packaging. On many occasions over the past few years I have had battles which revolve around opening up a product I have purchased. Some of them I can claim probably are universally frustrating. The theft-proof CD packaging requires some kind of sledge hammer (something from which I am forever banned since the unfortunate sledge-hammering of my wife’s hand to a fence post) or pneumatic tool device to protrude. Of course, one must be capable of destroying the hard plastic casing without damaging the fragile CD. It takes a mixture of Conan the Barbarian and Bob Villa. I resemble more of a combination of Pee Wee Herman and Rube Goldberg. (OK, if you are reading this column and are under 40 years of age ask your grandpa about the Rube Goldberg reference. Yeah, like anyone under 40 still reads a newspaper!)
Pill bottles, household cleaning products, vacuum cleaner boxes; you name it and I have probably encountered a challenge opening their respective containers. Directions or instructions I find are mostly of no use at all. A 10 page written instruction manual of how to open and put together anything reads like a Greek play to me — in the original Greek language. I contend there is absolutely no difference between the terms “childproof cap” and “adultproof cap” except the possibility that any imaginative 2-year-old could beat me in the time it takes to get the product out of the bottle.
For the most part I imagine really bored packaging design engineers sitting around in a room laughing as they design containers they know only they will immediately be able to figure out how to open. Let’s face it, a brilliant engineer sitting in an office doing a redundant job must surely want to vent their frustrations. Power is a dangerous thing in the hands of a devious person.
My wife, Kim, is a very mechanical person. She can work on things that are broken and fix them quite often. I can do routine maintenance on things that operate fine and they may never work again. Like most good marriages, ours works because she tolerates her husband’s shortcomings.
Anyway, I was going to shave last Sunday and she had bought a new pack of razors. I was attempting to open the package. There was no clearly marked, “Open Here” type of instructional guide. I was on my own to figure it out. It wasn’t going well.
After attempting to poke it with my finger, try to loosen an edge, and then just staring as if some sort of spiritual help would arrive, I grabbed a toothbrush and started poking the middle of the packing real hard. This plastic covering had the strength of corrugated iron. I was kind of proud of myself for not cursing out loud or drawing attention to myself in any other way. It was at that moment that Kim walked in and offered her help. She grabbed the razor packaging, simply found a corner where she grabbed the edge and the entire front cover peeled off as nicely as you please with almost no physical effort.
Now this is why I love her so much. She simply handed me back the pack of razors, turned and walked out without saying as much as a word. I was so proud of her as I can only imagine the intestinal fortitude that must have drained from every physical part of her body and mind.
It was only a few moments later when I heard these words from the other room. “I think that probably would make for a good column.”
Oops! My Bad Last Week
• Last week I wrote a column regarding the 3 percent PERF contribution and it was pointed out to me that I did not add a disclaimer that my weekly paycheck comes from the county budget. I certainly should not have failed to mention that. I guess I figured so many people knew that already that it wasn’t much of a secret. I will try to avoid any such potential conflict-of-interest faux paus in future writings.
Not Too Late To Donate
• As of this writing a benefit was to be held last evening at Charlestown High School for Nicole Morrison who was the senior advisor and teacher at CHS. If you missed it and would still like to help out the family and their extraordinary medical expenses you can send a check made payable to FaithWorld Church c/o Nicole Morrison. The mailing address is; FaithWorld Church, P O Box 103, Charlestown, IN 47111.
Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who lives in Otisco and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org