April 24, 2008 


Maybe six weeks ago, I found a bottle of laundry detergent on clearance at Target.  I should’ve been suspicious right then and there, since laundry detergent isn’t usually clearance-type material.  It all made sense when I went shopping the next time and found that all the stores have switched over to the new concentrated detergents.  The new formula comes in bottles that are like half the size, but they will wash the same amount of loads as their predecessors.  They use much less packaging, less shelf space, weigh less which saves shipping costs, and are just overall a great deal for the environment, the store, and the manufacturer.  No word yet on when those savings will be passed on to the customer, but I’ll be waiting.  I guess maybe we should just be grateful we won’t have to cause a hernia every time we need clean underwear.  

Apparently, big bad Wal-Mart actually pushed the idea with the manufacturers, and was the first to state they would switch over and carry only the new concentrated packaging.  Wal-Mart’s trying to save the world, y’all!  By my count they still owe us about a million more innovative, cost-saving, eco-friendly ideas before we’re even close to even after they brought on the demise of Western civilization with that whole “box store” thing, but whatever.   

So, this is all seemingly good and I should be happy to contribute to the betterment of society by hoisting a few less ounces (still talking detergent here, nobody panic – you are not, I repeat, NOT, being asked to stop hoisting ounces of the alcoholic beverage kind…don’t want anyone who is just skimming this to have a heart attack or anything), right?  Well, I’m NOT happy.  I’m highly irritated.  I have some mandates that I want instituted immediately, and if someone doesn’t see to it I swear to God the minutes are ticking away toward a revolt the likes of which you’ve never seen.  Every laundress in America is going to rise up and bring that industry to its knees, you mark my words.  There will be blood. 

1.      Stop trying to fit just as many words on the back label as you did before, when you had twice the room.  Or at least skip the pictures of happy women wearing clean, fresh clothes they laundered themselves with joy and anticipation at the honor of being able to hoist some Tide®.  This is not a tampon commercial; we just need to know how much of the stuff to dump in the machine, and we should be able to find that information without a magnifying glass.  Concentrate indeed! 

2.      If you can manage to print pictures of happy ladies wearing their fresh, clean clothes all over the outside of the bottle (right on the bottle, no label needed), along with a five million word essay on the wonderment that is your detergent, then why, WHY, can’t you manage to make those three stupid little numbered lines on the inside of the cap actually, I don’t know, visible?  To the naked eye?  Some of the new caps are about as big around on the inside as those annoying new gold coin dollars, no kidding – all mighty®, I’m looking at you.  You basically need to find someone from those “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movies that is willing to be lowered down in there on a cable in order to locate the lines.  The detergents that do have wider caps (and I’m guessing those with arthritis thank them profusely) make the lines so barely raised, and the numbers so barely discernable…it’s ridiculous!  I’m betting most people just fill the cap and never realize they’re probably using twice as much as you’re supposed to.  Conspiracy?  In theory, yes.  At least that’s my vote. 

3.      Speaking of the caps and the measuring, why do I have to learn a new amount every time I buy something different?  Why can’t you all just get together, and make a system of measurement?  Why can’t you just adjust the cap size to handle what the average human naturally wants to do – fill the cap?  At the least, why can’t it just be:  “Fill to top for normal loads, no need for magnifying glasses or fancy pouring while standing on your head to hit a fill line that you can’t even actually see!”,  “For smaller loads, fill to the line clearly marked by the printed arrow that we cleverly printed when we decorated the rest of this package because we have engineers that can develop stuff like that, woot!”, and “For larger loads just use the full cap because we know that most of our consumers use the large load fill level every load anyway and the amount of detergent is based on water amount, not clothing amount, so small and large are really probably all we need.  Plus, with those two clearly defined measurements we trust that our customers can judge the rest for themselves, as needed.”   

So yeah.  Hire some female engineers or something, be the first to come out and say “yeah, we’ve sort of been depending on you to overuse our product in order to pay all those huge executive bonuses, but we’re going to straighten up and fly right now!”  I would seriously be your customer for life if you’d do that…because I really don’t have time to stage a revolt.  Don’t think for one second that I won’t though.  I hope to have many, many years of detergent measuring left to my name and I don’t intend to continue being played for a fool.  When I can finally afford a maid I won’t let him be made a fool of either. 

Speaking of having many years left!  It has been widely reported this week that Sam’s Club and Costco are limiting the sale of rice to their customers.  Rice?  Seriously?  I think this might be a sign of the Apocalypse because rice is the one thing I thought I could always get, AND afford.  I mean, what’s next?  Pork ‘n Beans?  Ramen Noodles?  Aren’t those contestants on Survivor going to completely starve now?  I think there needs to be a summit to deal with this, right away.  Everybody is still just walking around, thinking they can go order Chinese takeout or boil up some rice and beans over the campfire, but NO.  You better acclimate yourselves, and your bank accounts, to couscous - that’s the best advice I can give you.  I swear, we have investigative committees about steroids in baseball, but rice shortages are no big deal?  It’s rice!  It’s supposed to always be there, in whatever quantity you want.  Someone hold me.   

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