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What’s underneath the packaging

Out on a LimbRoss L. TalbottGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

One of the fun parts of the Christmas celebration is watching the kids and/or grandkids shake and rattle the packages, trying to guess what’s inside. My brothers and I used to deliberately wrap presents in distorted ways. With a little creativity, we could wrap a cap gun so it looked like a ski.All that was for fun. Now when I open any box, I wonder what’s really inside. It seems retailers have devised all sorts of ways to shape containers to misrepresent the contents. How about that box of chocolates that has the insert spreading the candy far apart so when you open it, expecting shoulder-to-shoulder chocolate, you find them separated by about a half an inch? Then there are those antihistamines in a box that could hold a couple of hundred, but you slide out a foil card with about 24 pills, cleverly spaced. Bottles of drink are shrunk at the waist, or the bottom is arched up. Many things from orange juice to cleaning fluids come in wide, flat bottles that hold only half of what they appear. Milk jugs are still honest, and an apple is still an apple.This Christmas, I unwrapped a package and then opened a box and then unwrapped the cellophane and then removed the can from the decorative box. After opening the can, I found the contents in a foil bag which, when opened, filled the can less than half with hot chocolate powder. The packaging by volume and weight was probably 10 times the contents.Have you bought a candy bar that slides back and forth in the oversized wrapper? How about a box of cereal that is really only half full?Do you complain about the price of a gallon of gas, and then turn around and buy a little bottle of water at 10 times the price?On the one hand, we complain about consuming natural resources while we use “disposable” everything. I remember when flour came in cloth bags from which you could make a dress or shirt. There were jelly jars that became drinking glasses.Nowadays, stuff is either nonrepairable or cheaper to replace. So we pitch it, everything from computers to houses.It’s one thing to get suckered, but it’s another thing entirely to be a professional sucker.On the other hand, reality indicates that most of humanity is into the deception game. We play word games, such as referring to killing babies before birth as “freedom of choice.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When asked my age, I tell people that I’m a lot closer to 60 than 50. That’s the “truth,” and it will still be true when I’m 80.Deceptive packaging is also a big part of the human game. Does how you dress (package yourself) represent who you really are, who you would like to be, or maybe who you want people to think you are?You’ve heard the expression, “The suit doesn’t make the man.” Well, neither does the hard hat, the cowboy hat or the camo.In a conference in Phoenix, a lady from New York came up and asked, “May I have my picture taken with you? I just really love your costume.” Aside from feeling really conspicuous, in my cowboy hat and jeans, I suddenly began to look around at everyone else’s “costume.” I began to wonder if I could guess what was really inside by looking at the wrapping. Was I looking at a useful, recyclable item, or just a half full, nonrepairable, quickly out-of-date thing, deceptively packaged?Remember that little song that went, “Shake me I rattle, squeeze me I cry, just take me home and love me?”May the New Year bring you peace!Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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