I’m in my kitchen staring down at what used to be my cutting board but now looks like a setting for a horror movie.  Lined up in perfect medical precision are two screw drivers, flat head and Phillips, a pair of very sharp scissors, a Swiss army knife, an electric drill, a box cutter, and a blow torch.  My hands are gloved for protection against personal injury, and a pair of safety goggles cover my reading glasses.

I’m aware that what I’ve just described can conjure images of a serial killer’s basement, but I assure you I haven’t killed anyone recently and am not about to sever body parts.  I’m merely preparing to release my newly purchased computer accessory from yet another hard plastic blister pack!

Okay, I admit to a bit of exaggeration in discussing my tool line-up, (I really don’t own a blow torch), but I know I’m not alone when it comes to the feelings of frustration, and yes, anger caused by the inability to open a heat-sealed package fused together by what seems like 200 tons of pressure.

I am quite convinced that the blister pack, and its first cousin, the clam shell, was invented by an insomniac sadist who stayed awake at night figuring out the best way to send as many people as possible to the emergency room with severed fingers or sprained wrists.  In fact, I’m not at all certain that the need to replace my left shoulder did not stem from trying to unseal the package holding a new pair of scissors, which I bought because I ruined the last pair of scissors trying to open a package!

The desire to eventually smash the unopened package with a sledgehammer is indeed universal.  In 2003, a British newspaper actually coined a phrase to describe the phenomenon.  We can all identify.  It’s called Wrap Rage.

And in 2006, Wrap Rage was recognized across the pond when Consumer Reports created the Oyster Awards for the products with the hardest-to-open packaging.  Would you like to know about some of the winners? Of course, you would!

The Uniden Digital Phone Set took nine minutes and 22 seconds to open. Box cutters and razor blades were needed to finally release the phone.  A Barbie doll took even longer – 15 minutes and 10 seconds to pry her away from her incarceration.  And in another year, The Oral-B Sonic Complete Toothbrush Kit got top honors.  Opening required a line-up of sharp objects similar to those I described above, and a visit to the dentist to repair the damage caused by tightly clenched teeth.

Wrap Rage, unfortunately, is not limited to blister packs and clam shells.  Cursing can also be easily induced by other types of packaging as well.  Have you ever bought a bag of deliciously tempting cookies? You’re salivating as you try to open the bag from the corner that says “Tear Here.”  Five minutes later you’re reaching for the meat cleaver, or deciding the unopened package is for the best.  You’ve been wanting to lose some weight.

Cardboard boxes, friendly as they might look, also present a challenge.  My latest box of oatmeal directed me to a bit of perforation that said “Push Here to Open.”  My best efforts and some very foul language only served to mangle the box.  I opted for a piece of toast.

I wonder, on my next birthday will I still be able to handle child-proof bottle caps? Is it too much to ask the pharmacy to have a section of the store devoted to people who no longer have toddlers at home?

Stiff plastic wrapping around jars is another bugaboo.  While I appreciate that the manufacturer is trying to assure me that the product has not been tampered with, I’d be more appreciative if he would include a gift certificate for a manicure to mend the fingernail I split trying to reach the spaghetti sauce.  Or at the very least, provide a Band Aid.

So next time you’re expending all your energy trying to open a package containing an energy saving lightbulb, remember, you’re not alone.  You’re simply another victim of the sadistic insomniac.  So please feel free to throw a temper tantrum. You’ve earned it.

And if you need any encouragement, watch this snippet from the Larry David Show.  Even celebrity doesn’t make you immune against Wrap Rage.

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