Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Contribution to the English Language

Did you know that some of the words we use were only created because a new invention or technology required an adjective be created to distinguish the old technology from the new?

Have I lost you already? Okay class, let's give some examples.

Analog is a word that was only created after the invention of digital. No one defined a clock, phone or other such devices as "analog" until digital technology was introduced. "Land line"? Who had need to distinguish that your phone was actually connected to the wall prior to the invention of wireless? Lastly, due to a recent trip to the post office on tax day (stupid, stupid, stupid...) I point out "snail mail". Had this term been used just two decades ago, your friends and family would have placed a salt shaker by the mailbox, in case you made good on your statement.

After the celebration of my son's first birthday, I feel compelled to comment on another string of adjectives making its way into the mainstream: frustration-free packaging. Unlike the aforementioned words, this phrase was not invented to distinguish it from a newer technology. No, this phrase is the latest "technology". What I would like to comment on is the lack of a moniker for its predecessor, which - trust me - is still alive and well.

Since I appear to be the only one aware of this enormous gap in the English language, I would like to present some options for the current packaging.

Frustration Inducing Containers: Known as FIC. I enjoy this name only because it would sound wildly appropriate when opening such a container. Imagine the following:

Wife: "Honey, why is your face so red?"
Husband: "Because I'm trying to open this FIC-ing container and the kids are so impatient to get at the toys they've begun to chant and beat drums while circling around me! I think I've got about two minutes before they throw me to the wolves and tear at the packaging with their teeth!"

Hmmm. FIC-ing container? Maybe it's not as appropriate as it sounds when you put twelve party attending two year olds on the scene.

Multiple Object Container: Shortened to MOC (pronounced "mock"). So named because of the myriad of devices needed to unlock the prize within the package. Why is it that a toy for a one year old takes three adults, two scissors, one multi-tool and three hours to open? Yes, MOC has potential.

Hazard Inducing Instruments of Death: Pronounced "hide", HIID is probably the best description for the current wrappings the industry moguls have dreamed up. In an effort to prevent theft, danger to children, and any chance that parents may actually relax after their children receive a gift, packaging has now become so ridiculous that our lives are in danger.

You've seen it - the large gashes in fingers and palms from that terrible hard plastic encasing a toy so perfectly that Saran wrap could not have formed any closer. One of my son's gifts had so many twist ties, small screws placed through tiny plastic washers, and minute pieces of invisible tape, that once we finally retrieved the toy from it's oppressive surroundings, the "safe for under age 3" product had left so many choking hazards in its wake I wondered if we should move the party outside until I had a chance to properly vacuum! The worst part? The gift was from me.

Yes, I believe HIID is a wonderful description for these contraptions. Decades from now, when HIID containers are just a distant memory, our children will recall how their parents screamed in horror, running from the room, trying to "hide" from the awful packaging that awaited every knife, screwdriver and blowtorch in the house.

Of course, the irritation of opening a package is only a precursor to the next stage of terror:

But I'll leave that for another time.

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