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Safety Precautions Can Sometimes Create Other Problems


From the first time some nut case tampered with food by inserting poison in a package in the grocery store, manufacturers have become increasingly aware of packaging their products so that no tampering can occur.

That’s great for keeping us all safe and I applaud their efforts—but I have a problem. Over the years, my hands have become increasingly weaker and I don’t have the strength to break your codes!

I worked as the office manager for the music department at the University of Virginia for several years. The woman who had that job before me was quite tall and I’m quite short. The desk and computer equipment that fit her was a disaster for me. Because I was reaching up to type at a height for a taller person, I began to have difficulty with my hands and arms. Something resembling carpal tunnel syndrome resulted. I had to wear braces on my arms, go to physical therapy and take pain medication. Amazingly, after I was given a new desk and ergonomically sound computer equipment, I found that my hands and arms were getting better.

Unfortunately, the process had begun and has resulted in my having problems years later. My hands sometimes lose their grip and I drop things. I also have difficulty opening jars.

A couple of years ago, my husband gave me a terrific kitchen gadget that has saved me much aggravation. It’s an electric jar opener. You put the jar into the machine, push down on a button, and the jar is rotated until it opens. No longer am I struggling with rubber grippers or a metal device that slips off the jar when I try to open it.

It appears to me that manufacturers are working hard to keep tampering from occurring when the items are in stores, but when you get them home, you have a harder and harder time opening them.

Bill and I are keeping scissors by our living room chairs now because even a package of cheese crackers can be frustrating. And don’t get me started on ketchup and mustard packages!

Many packages have “resealable” lines by which you can supposedly rip open the package. Most of them seem to be designed for a gorilla to tear open, because unless I start them with a knife, I can’t get them to budge. Even dog biscuits are wrapped in some type of heavy plastic that defies any ripping I can manage.

We’ve also encountered pill packages that are sealed with plastic, aluminum, and glue that make it almost impossible to break.

It’s great to have these safety devices in place. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for keeping items impenetrable in stores. It’s just that when I get them home, I’d like to be able to use them without having to resort to a sledge hammer or hedge clippers to get them open.

Thanks for the safety precautions, folks, but give us a clue at how to get to the product!

About Sue Freeman Culverhouse

    Sue Freeman Culverhouse

    Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing.

    She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University.

    Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students.

    Sue writes “Uncommon Sense,” a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of “Seven keys to a sucessful life”, which is  available on and; this is a self-help book for all ages.

    Web Site:




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