It wasn’t always this difficult.
I can recall a childhood just thirty years ago when manual can openers still had the power to actually open tin cans efficiently and completely.
And those tin cans could withstand the act of losing their lids, shorn away by mighty steel blades, without bending and warping from their previous circular shapes to find new, indescribable mutant forms, their lids still attached to the cylinders by grasping tendrils of twisted metal.
It wasn’t very hard to make a tuna sandwich or a pot of soup. You just did it.
But it would seem as though manual can openers and tin cans have lost their way. They have gone soft and weak, no longer strong enough to play their parts in that drama. And we must pay the price.
Dirty clothes and messy countertops.
Loss of appetite.
I guess I could just buy myself a temporary respite from this annoyance in the form of an electric can opener, a more expensive version of the not-so-faithful-anymore old faithful that will almost certainly fail to perform its function before too long as well, forcing me to replace it at a cost I would really prefer not to pay.
And I shouldn’t have to do so.
Supposedly, a long time ago, things were built to last. If you were to purchase one of these products, it was reasonable to expect a lifetime of service. And you got it.
But now it is only reasonable to expect a few months – maybe a year – of service. It is only reasonable to expect poor performance, malfunctions – planned obsolescence.
Now we seem too content to waste our money and waste the resources in terms of raw materials and energy in the forms of electricity, transportation and manpower required to manufacture the product.
Now we seem too content to routinely add to the mountains of disposable garbage by haphazardly buying new products, new contraptions, new gizmos that will only enjoy short lives in our homes – lives that we will not similarly enjoy thanks to the inherent frustrations involved in owning and using substandard merchandise – before they wind up at the curb.
Why are we so willing to buy and throw away this garbage? Why don’t we demand better of the manufacturers?
I know a man who absolutely refuses to buy an electric kettle. And it makes sense. Why should he spend money on a single-purpose mechanism, one that will repeatedly become a mess of hard water scale, one that will probably only last a year or so at best, when a stainless steel pot, which is easy to clean on a daily basis offers numerous uses?
Unfortunately, a can opener has but one purpose. And it is the only way to open the tin cans.
So, I guess we are stuck.
Just like the lids on those tin cans.