Joanne Palmer: Package Protection Program |

Joanne Palmer: Package Protection Program

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

I have wrap rage. And I am boiling mad.

Get out of my way, and let me wrap my hands around the scrawny neck of the packaging engineer who invented impossible-to-open plastic packages, cardboard boxes and childproof caps.

There. I feel better now. I have expressed my hostility without acting upon it in an immature and irresponsible fashion. I have channeled my anger constructively, and now, instead of choking the aforementioned engineer, I only want to blow up his or her house. There is probably a 12-step program I could enter, if only I had the time. At the moment, all of my free time is spent trying to open packages.

Right now, I am looking at a 2-inch gash on my left hand that is the result of trying to open a package. The knife kept going and sliced the heel of my hand, the fleshy fat part that is below the thumb. Otherwise, I might have chopped off a finger. I am lucky I did not need stitches. I am fortunate to not be in the hospital. I am lucky to be alive.

OK, I exaggerate.

But I am not overstating the facts when I claim I did cut myself with a sharp knife trying to open a package. A package that was bound and gagged with triple layers of packing tape that even a chainsaw-wielding Jackie Chan couldn't penetrate.

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OK, I exaggerate.

But not by much.

Have you ever tried to open a child's toy? While your child looks on, eagerly anticipating a new truck, building blocks or a sweet little doll, you are frantically trying to undo 8,000 little twist ties that hold the toy in place. Two hours later, you are triumphant, finally ready to hand the toy to your sobbing, shaking, stressed-out child, who at this point hates you, the toy and his life. Trust me, the therapy bills will be enormous.

Twist ties are only the beginning. It gets worse. Far worse. The real culprit is plastic. To be specific, clamshell packaging that holds the product in its clutches. A real clam's shell can be popped opened with a knife. The plastic clamshell cannot.

OK, I exaggerate.

If you have a blowtorch, chainsaw and a set of super sharp steak knives it may be possible, after several hours of dedicated work, to pierce a minuscule hole in a clamshell package. Then again, maybe not.

Clamshell plastic comes in three strengths.



Insane-producing, over-the-top, lose-all your-marbles, get-out-your-BB-gun-and-blast-the-thing-to-pieces-that-will-be-found-in-Brown's-Park-25-years-from-now.

Boo-yah! Hands in the air, I'm dancing with my BB gun.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, "an average of 6,000 people a year end up in the emergency department for packaging-related injuries. Many more get minor wounds from using sharp implements to extricate products."

Many more enter the Pack­age Protection Program and are never heard from again. I may be one of them.

How do you know if you have wrap rage?

I Googled wrap rage and found it has many of the symptoms of road rage:

■ Mentally condemning pack­­aging engineers or entertaining thoughts of violence against the aforementioned lowlifes.

■ Verbally expressing condemnation of packaging engineers in a 600-word newspaper column.

■ Violating packaging instruction with no regard to the consequences because of extreme impatience.

Yep. Those are the symptoms.

If you don't see a column from me next week it might be because I'm too busy trying to open a package. Or, I've entered the Package Protection Program and am sunning myself on a tropical island where no packages can be delivered, purchased or seen.

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