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Things we never get right

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Milwida M. Guevara

Milwida M. Guevara

I bought a USB that came with a clamshell packaging. I tried to pry it open, but nope, it hardly budged. I knew then that it was time to get armed! But to no avail! A pair of scissors proved powerless and needed reinforcement with a knife. I was therefore convinced that while packaged USBs are virus-fee, they bring with them undue duress and injury.

Child resistant bottles are equally bad. Push, and twist, says the direction on the bottle cap. But the cap remains glued to the bottle despite pushing with your thumb, pushing with your hand, or pushing with the use of your elbow. Then, you try pulling instead of pushing. Pull the cap up with all your might until your breath runs out. As a last resort, you can bang the bottle on the table top. Alas, you were not meant to win the tug of war. What was not said is that the bottle is resistant both to a child and a senior citizen.

The story is repeated in opening bottles. Your struggle begins with gripping the bottle tightly as if your life depended on it, and twisting the lid to the left or twisting it to the right. If the process remains an insurmountable struggle, try immersing the lid into a basin of hot water. If it does not work, the jam may not want to leave the bottle and may be resistant to the use of force.

Sachets can be powerful nemesis as well. They never open on the spot where it says “tear to open”. You have to tear them from all directions. While you gain initial success in opening the foil, the plastic that seals the product becomes an impenetrable fortress. As a last resort, you use your teeth to pry it open. But teeth were meant for chewing and not for gnawing. The result? The shampoo gets splattered all over your face.

How to stick a straw inside a tetra pack may appear to be an easy task. But wait until you try it. It is like using an ice pick before an impermeable object.

And what about opening letters? Nine chances out of ten, you will be unable to open the flap without a tear, even with the help of a letter opener. What is worse is that the letter is stapled to the envelope and you can only detach it after a chipped fingernail.

These are some of the little things that we can never get right. They frustrate us and get into our nerves. Our frustration escalates when we do not get the more important things right. Like the inflation rate for example. When the TRAIN was being proposed, the DOF said that the increase on excise tax on oil products will have a minimal effect on inflation (0.9%). And not to worry because there would be targeted transfers to the poorest families, cash card and subsidies to public utility vehicles so that they can convert to more efficient engines. Unfortunately, things were not right. Or more accurately, things that government assumed did not go right.

Déjà vu. The DOF did not also get things right many years ago. The proposed single tax rate for cigarettes and beer came out as multi-tiered rates.

There are a thousand and one examples of things that we do not get right: revenue targets, flawed policies, bungled appointments, wasteful spending, sophomoric proposals, and disappointing ROIs.
We cannot just grin and bear them.

There are mistakes to accept, lessons to learn, and, solutions to find. But, we have to admit that we are fallible, and do not have a monopoly of power and ideas. We need to listen and ask for the help of others. Even, if it only entails opening a jar.

mguevara@synergeia.org.ph

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