The Best of Andy Rooney

The tops of jars and bottles are too hard to take off. Stuff that comes packaged in plastic is too hard to open. Big envelopes that say "tear along dotted line" don't tear there. How come companies are selling us stuff we can't get at?

Something as simple as the twist-off cap on a bottle of soda is often impossible to remove with your bare hands. I have normal strength in my hands. I work with them in my shop all the time. But I can't get the tops off about half the things I try.

If the average person were on a desert island with boxes full of bottles and jars of food, he or she could easily starve to death simply because it was impossible to get the tops off.

Do the manufacturers who sell us these products understand how angry we are? They may not know, and I have one possible explanation. It may be that the people who can't get the tops off things feel inadequate and don't want to admit they can't do it. They assume everyone else can get the tops off and, if they can't, they think they must be too dumb or too weak. No one wants to admit either of those things by complaining to the companies, so they remain silent.

Men, in particular, don't want to admit they aren't strong enough. My friend Garry Moore had a great sense of humor. He was married to a woman a bit bigger than he was and he liked to joke about her size and strength. When he couldn't get the top off something, he enjoyed needling her by handing her the jar and saying, "Here, dear. See if you can get the top off this for me."

The other conspiracy I suspect is that the inventors of tops are in cahoots with the people who make a wide variety of gadgets designed to help people remove tops. Many of these don't work, either, but even if they do, no one should have to buy these things. Some of these gadgets are designed to remove small tops, others large tops, and people have to buy different kinds. Sales of these faulty gadgets are brisk and I suspect top-designers are getting some of the money.

When it comes to taking the tops off things, I'm a rapper. I give anything that resists a sharp rap with the handle end of a table knife and this sometimes loosens it. I have even taken a jar to the basement and inserted it in my vice while I try to twist the top with a pair of pliers.

I bought a can of something that's supposed to cut through the buildup of baked-on grease in the oven. The top of the can says, "To remove top, squeeze, twist and pull." I squeezed, twisted and pulled with all my might and couldn't get the top off. In a moment of fury, I had a wild idea. I was going to find out who designed the top, locate his home or office and then take off in my car with a camera crew. Once there, I'd whip the jar or can out of a bag, push it at him and say, "Here. You invented this damn thing. Let me see you squeeze, twist and pull it off."

All this would be caught on camera. After the inventor failed miserably removing his own top, which I was convinced he would, I would come back with my pictures and sell them as an expose to Geraldo Rivera. I would have exclusive pictures of an inventor of tops you can't get off, not being able to get one of his own tops off.

Then I'd ask for my money back.

(This classic Rooney column was originally published March 8, 1998.)

The Best of Andy Rooney - Humor & Satire Classics

Humor & Funny Stories - Squeeze, Twist and Pull Just Doesn't Work | Andy Rooney

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services