Most of today's packaging does keep products fresher than they used to be years ago, and of course, it makes things safer for all of us. But, it also makes a lot of them next to impossible to open, especially for us seniors. Knowing how much trouble I'd have when I got home and tried to open my purchase, I was always tempted to ask the clerk that rang me up, to please open the packages that have those sealed up plastic wrappers on them, before they placed them in a bag.

Recently, I did find a lifesaving gadget that you can use on those tightly plastic-sealed items. On the back of the sealed up piece of cardboard that held the gadget it stated in bold letters, "This will be the last package you will struggle to open!" Boy, was that the truest statement I'd read in years! I loved my new find so much, that I went back and bought a bunch of them to pass out to some of my friends.

Of course there are still a lot of things that it can't open for me and I still have to struggle with them. I've had the power of my grip tested and it seems that my strength is average for my age. Sadly, most of us lose a lot of our grip strength, along with other things as we age. But, I'd rather think that products are sealed tighter now and my problems in opening them has nothing to do with my age.

Some of our drugs now come in bottles that you almost need pliers to break the seal on them. Then others, you have to push down hard and turn to at the same time to get them open. Now that's a task for some of us to do and closing them back up is also a chore.

I got two bottles of vitamins the other day. When I tried to open them it turned into a project that I hadn't anticipated. I had to lift a small white tab on the cap, then pull it up and back until it released the top. Once the top was off, then the bottle was sealed with a thick paper seal that only comes off in small pieces after being punctured by a pen. My goodness, vitamins, not drugs or anything close to being dangerous. I guess that someone was afraid that children would swallow too many of them. Strange idea, as once the bottle is open, it's easy to reopen.

I know that much of this packaging is to stop some weirdo from putting poison on the product before you buy it, or to keep children from getting into them. It's amazing that we survived without any problems, but then we were taught not to touch stuff that didn't belong to us. And we certainly wouldn't want to poison someone whom we had never met.

The potato chips are indeed much fresher in their new packaging than they ever were before. I just keep scissors handy to open the packages and have given up the fight to figure out which way to pull the edges to get the dang thing open.

Many small products are placed in much larger plastic-covered cardboard packaging to slow down shoplifters, I understand that. The main problem as I see it, is that we have to pay more for all this extra security and it gives us more trash to dispose of, which we also have to pay to get it hauled away.

Welcome to my world of frustration.

A native of Minnesota, Carol Olson grew up in South Dakota and Walnut Creek and now lives in Pittsburg. She can be reached at carolleeolson@aol.com.