Evil plastic thingies and other modern conveniences

Janice Lindsay writes about 'evil plastic thingies."
Janice Lindsay

By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer

When faced with a major life crisis, most of us rally. We face it, figure out what to do, and get on with it.

It’s the little things that drive us cuckoo.

I bought a plush fleece baby blanket as a gift for a friend. I wanted to give it unwrapped, laundered, and ready for baby. 

“Unwrapped.” Right.

The super-soft white blanket with its perky pattern of yellow and blue guitars had hung, neatly folded, from a hanger on the store rack. The folds were held together by an army of those evil little plastic thingies. You know what thingies I mean. The thingy is a short, thin, clear plastic stick, in this case about a half-inch long, each end shaped like a T.

The wicked little gizmos often hold new socks together. They attach tags to new garments. They must be removed, both ends and the middle, or their sharp points stab you when you wear your new garment. If you launder the garment first and don’t get every piece out, thingies end up, unseen, in your washing machine.

Each end of the thingy fits tightly against the fabric. If you try to thread one of the T-heads through the fabric to remove the thingy whole, you risk damaging the fabric. If you cut the head off, you risk cutting the fabric, especially if it’s soft and plushy. If you manage to cut one T-head off safely, its opposite T-head is trapped inside the garment. Or it goes flying off and you will never find it until you hear it clattering inside the vacuum cleaner or the cat tries to eat it.

For the blanket, I snipped the head off each outward-facing T, holding the blanket above the kitchen table. I counted the heads as I cut them, then shook the blanket until opposite ends fell out. I smoothed the blanket with my fingers, feeling for vicious little points, until I had an equal number of cut heads and fallen heads, all the time imagining how wisely I could have spent these minutes otherwise for the greater good of humankind or at least myself.

Nefarious T-thingies are not the only modern convenience that can drive us cuckoo.

How about those zip-top plastic bags that don’t? “Tear here” to open. Fail. Cut with scissors. Try to open the zip part. Fail. Pry open with table knife. Finally, open. Take the contents you need. Zip to close. Can you get the zipper halves to click together?

And cardboard cartons – maybe for pasta, or cookies — with a perforated rectangle near the top on one side. “Push here to open.” Push. Fail. Fetch a knife. Stab perforation. 

Then there’s hair conditioner too thick to flow through the pouring spout of its own bottle. 

And those envelopes where you fold one edge and tear it off, fold the opposite edge and tear it off, fold the top edge and tear it off, a nuisance even when they tear evenly, which they don’t.

And those tiny flat square plastic tags with two sharp facing points that hold plastic bread bags closed. The points tear the bags, so frugal persons can’t re-use them.

And don’t get me started about products that come sealed so tightly in thick plastic, usually melded to a cardboard backing, that you must employ your box cutter, endangering the health of neighboring objects not to mention your various body parts.

I know that these crazy-makers are not Matters of Life and Death. Somehow, we manage to handle Life and Death.

But I just can’t figure out how to neatly wrestle the bookshop’s tenacious price sticker off the lovely new photo album I bought for my friend. Help!

Contact jlindsay@tidewater.net.



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