Don’t make ‘em like they used to

Brian Ferry News Writer

They don’t make ’em like they used to.

In many cases, that is entirely accurate and the new versions — of anything electronic in particular — are way better.

So, the good old days weren’t always good.

But sometimes I come across something that makes me wonder how badly we can reengineer something.

Pencil sharpeners and can openers.

As a kid, I was able to sharpen a pencil. I could use the big, bolted down, crank kind or the portable rectangular plastic kind. It didn’t matter. I could make my broken pencil useful again.

Yesterday, I got frustrated when I found 13 pencils around my house and not one of them had a point. I would have been happy with one pencil that I had to hold at a certain rotation to get lead to paper. These were broken.

I dug around and eventually found a sharpener. It was rectangular and plastic.

I’ll bet it took me 15 minutes, but I had 13 pencils with tolerable points — most of them with lead showing all the way around. But, getting there was no fun. One pencil I could not turn past a certain point. I was losing a test of strength to a piece of wood most easily measured in grams.

Others, no matter how long I spent on them, nor how diligently I sharpened one side, never had lead all the way around.

I have pens and keyboards and crayons. Pencils I can live without.

The one that really burns me is can openers. I cannot believe the cans have gotten stronger in an era of reduced packaging.

I’ll bet I could use a hand can opener as an 8-year-old more successfully than I can use any opener in my house today.

When I first noticed this problem — I really don’t open that many cans — I just bought a couple new, cheap, can openers.

That didn’t work. They either wouldn’t punch through the can or couldn’t be turned once they did. Or, most commonly, neither.

I don’t need a laser opener that reveals the soup or whatever in less than 2.1 seconds. I need to be able to get into the can before anyone — including me — starts chewing on my arm because they haven’t eaten in so long.

Eventually I got all can-opener patriotic and figured I needed a made-in-America opener.

I went out of my way to get a domestic, moderately-priced opener. It was pretty chunky. This was a device that could give me access to food.

No.

Four or five cheapies. Two American. Two other non-cheapies.

Nothing.

I even went electric. They apparently stink, too.

No wonder so much food is packaged in bags now.

I guess they don’t make bags like they used to, either.

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