84263868 - seven bottles of medication of various types

Have you had trouble trying to open anything lately? 

Hmm, I thought so. 

Armed with sharp knives, scissors and other assorted pointy (and potentially lethal) objects, I am ready to rumble with any packaged item that comes my way. Yet, I usually have to ask for the assistance of my husband, Doug. From opening bottles of iced tea to a new container of yogurt, the consumer better be physically fit to get through the tight layers of plastic, cemented bottle tops, steel-like cardboard and other major obstacles. Why is everything so difficult?

We’ve all heard the stories about the elderly people who can no longer open up their pill bottles because of the manufacturer’s “baby-proofing.” Let’s see, a drug designed for arthritic hands requires a vice to open. What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t have arthritis, but I cannot open a bottle of over-the counter aspirin! Even if I could get the dang pill bottle open, sometimes twisting off the top of bottled water takes Herculean strength. Why bother? 

A few physicians in Phoenix claim that elderly patients often don’t take their meds correctly because the hassle of getting things open is just too hard. One 80-year-old man told his doctor, “it would take a bodybuilder to open my heart medication bottle.” 

How is it that the average person cannot muster the strength to open a jar of food or a pill bottle? Maybe we should resort to sledgehammers to smash the little, mean bottles. Clearly, our safety-minded packaging has gone too far! 

The other day I tried to rip open a package of cheese where it says, “Tear here.” Oh yeah, that’s a big, fat lie. Any time you see those two little words — “tear here” — you might as well run for your scissors. 

I have a daughter with a disability and her struggles are real. If you have a slight vision problem (can’t line up those little marks on the child-proof bottle caps) or haven’t been lifting weights lately, day-to-day tasks become almost impossible. Worse, people are inadvertently stabbing themselves when they try to cut those plastic bottle-top rings with sharp knives. Ouch! It’s a bloody mess in the kitchen these days.

Who would have guessed that we have to walk around with our toolbelts on just to survive? My most trusted item in the kitchen is the bottle grip-opener, yet most of the time, I still need help. The other day I was fumbling with a mean little olive jar when I decided that without Doug, my life in the kitchen would be useless. (Doug, if you’re reading this, what I meant to say is that my life without you would be useless). 

I generally walk around the house armed. If you stop by, don’t be frightened if you see me with a knife (cutting plastic rings), hemostat (gripping plastic), scissors (cutting cardboard) or wire cutters (snipping steel staples). Does any of it work? Occasionally. 

Olive jars, beware! Until next week, stay safe, dear readers, and try to conquer all-things hard to open.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.