My Can Opener

Gold-can-800pxHow do I know this is the end of days?

I tried to use the hand-operated can opener that my wife recently bought at the Quicky-Mart and it confounded me.

The first sign of Armageddon is when simple things become utterly impossible.

Granted, the old opener who had served us faithfully for decades had become worn and wobbly. I can understand why she replaced it. Yet it saddened me to find it gone and an unfamiliar contraption eagerly taking its place.

The new one was as simple as the old. Its thick blue handles fit my hand comfortably and the gears and rotary cutter, though slightly different, did not seem unfamiliar – until I tried to open a can of fruit cocktail.  The jaws refused to grip and no matter what I tried, I could not get the thing to work.

I tried different angles.

I tried persuasion.

I tried threats.

I tried beating its little head against the counter.

Nothing worked.

Then it dawned on me – perhaps the opener and I had gotten off on the wrong foot. After all, it was young and eager and I am old and cranky and it takes time for personalities so mismatched to adjust.

So I stomped into living room to watch Law And Order reruns.  A couple of hours later, I returned beaming with goodwill and optimism – but the little jerk still refused to grip the can.

Again I considered violence.

It has never worked for me in the past, yet I continue to hold onto hope that one day with enough screaming and thrashing about I might make a break-through.  But on this day, before tossing the opener under my truck and repeatedly driving back and forth over it, I called my wife at work.

“Honey,” I screamed into the phone, “how does this flipp’n can opener work?”

“The first thing,” she said, “is that you must be smarter than the opener.”

“Not gonna happen,” I told her.

“Then read the booklet on the counter. It will show you how to use it.”


Like I said, it is the end of days.

When it takes an instruction manual to operate a basic can opener, there is no future for humanity. Sure enough, the instructions told me what I was doing wrong. The opener must be placed flat against the top of the can instead of aligned with the side.

This style of opening slices through the wall of the can, instead of puncturing the top.


I cannot for the life of me understand why simple familiar things must be changed. Do not get me wrong, I am not adverse to change but humanity must strive to keep simple things simple and familiar things familiar – that way we can concentrate on more complex things.

What next? A sixteen page manual telling us which end of the broom to use?  If this continues, one day we may never get out of the kitchen.

So I positioned the opener against the fruit cocktail can precisely as illustrated in the manual and – nothing happened.

It still would not grip.

But before resorting to fits of violence, I remembered something…. about a decade ago, the simple and familiar extruded aluminum can was redesigned so that only one end has a cap.

With that in mind, I flipped the can over and Viola, it worked.


Now that I know how to use the can opener, I can focus on far more complex problems, like why I need a separate TV remote to change channels on the satellite box and another to adjust volume on the TV.

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