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My concerns: Zippers and pepper shakers

My concerns: Zippers and pepper shakers

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While each and every member of the Twelve Loyal Readers is a “wild and crazy guy” as a group we have certain things in our lives that we depend on.

Mostly these are the mundane things in our existence that we take for granted until suddenly, and, always surprisingly, they don’t work anymore. An example would be the lowly doorknob.

Thousands of times you turn the carport doorknob and thousands of times it moves to open the door. Then one day you turn the knob and whatever mechanism operates to unlatch the door doesn’t work. The light switch on the wall is another example. For years you flick the switch and the light comes on.

Then, one day without warning...nada. That’s what I’m talking about.

Now it seems the entire zipper universe has conspired to fail in one coordinated event. For some reason...or no reason...every zipper on every coat or jacket has become obstreperous. “Norm,” you say, “When you buy the cheap, sometimes secondhand clothes you wear, you must expect faults.”

Indeed but these zipper failures are occurring on expensive, name-brand articles that I have received as gifts. The family gives me very nice garments that I would never buy for myself.

For many years zippers and I got along famously. Of late, not so much. I find three common flaws. Either the zipper jams about 3 inches from the bottom or the zipper separates leaving a zipped part at the bottom and a zipped part at the top with a gaping chasm in the middle or finally, at the bottom the zipper doesn’t mesh to allow the zipping operation.

We can pick up a hand sized device and contact someone 2,000 miles away but we can’t manufacture a dependable zipper. For years I counted zippers as one of the few constants in my life. No longer. When your constants change, anxiety ensues.

Which brings me to my second failure of a common object that has ceased to function as it did for years. You know what I’m talking about because you, too, have had to deal with it. Of course I am speaking about your basic, every day pepper shaker.

Remember when you could turn up a pepper shaker and pepper would come out? Those days are gone. Some restaurants have gone to the tabletop mini-pepper grinder wherein you twist the top and purportedly pepper comes out.

Since when do I need to exert physical strain to get a bit of pepper? More commonly the old pepper shaker sits on the table. You pick it up, shake it gently at first and then vigorously to no avail. Eventually you have to take the top off the cursed thing and risk pouring an inch tall pile of pepper on your food.

Here are but two instances of things that for years we took for granted. We used them, they worked. They were dependable and we didn’t have to wonder whether we could encase ourselves in cold weather or season our food without battling a twist off top.

Is there a decline in the quality of zipper trees or is there a worldwide shortage of pepper? Who among us can devine the answer? I have two guesses.

Either it’s George W. Bush or the millennials. One is as likely as the other.


On a bench in his workshop, Norm Douglass has a prototype of a zippered pepper shaker. Jeff Bezos is said to be interested in investing.


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