Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oh Those Pesky Plastic Peanuts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oh Those Pesky Plastic Peanuts

Article excerpt

Islit open the package with a kitchen knife and there they were, plastic "peanuts" covering everything. I tried to scoop off enough of them to get at what was underneath, but they wouldn't go. They stuck to my hands, my shirt, my hair. And I couldn't brush them off. They clung to the counter, the cabinet doors.

"Help," I cried in pathetic despair.

My wife, Lucy, finally arrived. "Electricity in the air," she said.

I marched to the phone. "I've had it with these things," I said. "I'm going to call the company - the president."

The person in charge of complaints - not the president, naturally - was a soft-spoken man who probably held the phone as far away as possible from his ear as I discharged my grievances. "Let me assure you, sir, that we share in your concern," he said. I paused, momentarily taken aback. "We really want to address this problem."

"They used to just scatter," I moaned. "Now they stick to everything. I can't get them off my hands!" Silence. "Couldn't you, please, find something else?"

"Believe me, sir, if there was a better product, we would use it. Our research and development branch gives packaging its highest priority. It is constantly experimenting with new materials. But we welcome your concern. In fact, should you have any recommendations...."

"Old Ping-Pong balls," I said, waking in the night. Peat moss? Spanish moss? Shredded cardboard, newspaper, shredded documents? The Pentagon! Washington alone should be able to supply the whole packaging industry.

Meanwhile, needed household items kept coming - mixing bowls for our son, some dessert plates from Italy - in boxes popping with "peanuts." Deliveries, once looked forward to as minor but important bright spots in the day, were now dreaded as times of crisis. Weeks went by. Months. No comments on any of my suggestions. …

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