Getting a Grip

She handed me the container, a macho moment for certain, great time to be a guy.

“Get the top off for me” she pleaded. “My hands just can’t do it.”

As ergonomics go, the container’s top was out-sized for the average grip, four inches across–a bulk quantity of one of our regular daily doses. She intended to redistribute the hundreds of pills into smaller, more cabinet-sized containers.

No problem. Thumb joint arthropathy notwithstanding, I’d crank that sucker open and back to her before she had time to get back to the kitchen.

Wrong. The widest possible grip forced the thumb and index finger into a “C” around the top in a wide open arc–the wider the grip beyond tool-handle circumference, the less the grip force. The slick bottom part of the container rotated along with the top as I turned counterclockwise. Fine.

I put on the dishwashing gloves for traction. No dice.

I found a strap wrench in the closet under the stairs, its non-slip rubber grip and mechanical leverage exactly what it would take to get the job done. Didn’t. My hands were killing me by now.

I banged the top with the butt end of a heavy knife to break the seal and tried again. Thing didn’t budge.

I cussed and sputtered and did what such threatened loss of manly self-esteem required. I grabbed a serrated steak knife outta the sink and cut the flippin’ bottom out of the container. I left it there on the countertop for all the other unopened pill bottles to see.

And the ultimate irony: the medication– Glucosamine. For arthritis.


About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

5 comments:

  1. Irony abounds (since your wife IS a pharmacist).

    My gripe: every week I get mad at the Fosamax packaging: a cardboard triple-fold thing bigger than a slice of bread, just to hold four pills, each of which is buried under a strip of the cardboard that you have to tear off, then inside a bubble of plastic or foil or something that you have to punch it out of. And you’re supposed to take Fosamax as soon as you wake up. Before you’ve had coffee. So if I forget to wrestle the pill out of its fortress the night before, I just skip it the next day — now how counterproductive is that?

    And then of course there’s the minuscule print on all medications — telling us unimportant things like directions, which can’t be read by the majority of people (over 40) who take the drugs.

  2. Ah, yes….the daily struggle with jar and bottle tops. And, this is an attempt by American industry to save us from those who would “tamper” with the contents. Only trouble is now we can’t even GET to the contents!!

  3. Yup, it happens all the time, and we are both so arthritic now that we usually can’t do a thing. Lately, I always try to remember ask for another kind of lid (my memory isn’t terrific either), or at the very least, ask the pharmacist to put the vitamins in a plastic bag. Never fails though – when I do encounter one of the more stubborn caps, I curse and swear and fume, and my vocabulary reverts to the one I learned in first year engineering (aka trucker 101). I’ll bet the other jars are changing their attitude though – dissent or mutiny could be fatal.

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