Friday, December 28, 2007

Wrap Rage

The AP reported on Christmas about a newly identified condition.

On Christmas morning, Lisa Addy's Orlando house resembles an assembly line. Her 5-year-old daughter unwraps a present, then hands it to Addy or her husband to open, a task that increasingly involves tools more suited for an electrician than a child.

"The worst I have found is the Barbies or any doll packaging," said Addy, 39. "Because they sew the hair to the box. You have to cut out the plastic things, so you get your wire cutters. And they have a wire wrapped around each wrist and ankle and sometimes around the body of the doll. I don't understand what the point is."

There's even a term for the anger and frustration that accompanies the bloody fingers, sore shoulders and teeth filled with plastic that come from trying to open these packages: "wrap rage."

"The challenge is how to have something that is easy to open but also hard to steal from," said Daniel Butler, vice president of merchandising and retail operations for the National Retail Federation. "It's a tough balance."

Yes, it must be a tough balance indeed, and they haven't got it right yet.

"Nothing is funny about seeing a grown woman leaving teeth marks in a toy package as the grandchild cries because Nana can't get the darn package open," Pat Northey, 58, a grandmother from Deltona, Fla., wrote in an e-mail. "I have had packages where even when you cut them with scissors, the package is so tight that when you pull them apart, you rip the flesh right out of your fingers."

Northey isn't alone. Injuries from plastic packaging and containers resulted in about 6,000 visits to the emergency room in 2006, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Usually it's just a simple laceration of the hands," said Dr. Timothy Hendrix, the medical director for Florida Hospital CentraCare. "Sometimes they cut their hand deep enough to require sutures. Using a steak knife to pry it open probably isn't as good of an idea as using scissors."

Man, am I lucky my family got me what they did. So far, books and candy don't come in slasher clamshells.

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