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HERB BENHAM: Out with the knife

I bought a new blower because the broom wasn’t good between the railings and under the furniture on the new deck.

The Craftsman leaf blower cost $99 but didn’t include a battery or a charging station.

“For another $79, you can buy a Craftsman drill that comes with a battery and a charging station, both of which will work for the blower,” said the woman who was helping me in hardware.

Sold. The drill, battery and docking station came in a box and each was encased in clear, hard plastic that makes them as transparent and impenetrable as Lenin’s tomb.

My heart sank as it always does when I looked at the hard plastic casing. Why do they do this? I could see the battery, I could feel the battery but the battery might as well have been 12,000 miles away in Red Square.

One thing was for sure. At some point, I would be stabbing the package. Stabbing it as if I were Anthony Perkins in the shower scene in “Psycho.”

Maybe this time I could find the opening. Maybe, an arrow with the words “Open here.” Maybe, I could fly like Flubber too.

I wasn’t looking for a challenge. A pre project. I had a project and unless I was able to peel back the plastic and slide the battery onto the docking station in order to charge it, I would be cleaning off the deck by lying on my stomach and blowing as hard as I could, as if it was my birthday and there were candles as far and wide as I could see.

I started the carnage by grabbing the retractable, 3/4-inch Craftsman razor knife. However, give the plastic package credit. No matter how many times I slashed it, the integrity of the casing held.

This was like trying to kill Moby Dick. Unless you hurtled the harpoon into the eye of that great beast, you might as well have tickled him and tossed fish in his mouth while he was lying on his back.

I did one thing right. I kept my follow through with the razor modest so as not to open an incision across my abdomen as if I were preparing for an appendix operation.

“Nurse, good job on the incision. I can see everything.”

I went from the razor to a pair of garage scissors but I was going backwards. I needed shears, the sort you use to shear sheep. Sheep with wool like steel wool.

Time to switch gears. Rather than meeting strength with strength, I put my finger inside the package through one of the slashes in order to force it open by pretending that I had a bionic finger. Not only was I unable to break the seal, but the plastic was so sharp that when I gave up and tried withdrawing the finger, I risked leaving a fingertip behind.

“We’ll take the charging station back but you’re going to have to do something about the finger. We don’t have a SKU code for that.”

Finally, I opened it and like all the times before, I’m not sure how I did it. Rather than building any institutional knowledge that could come in handy for the next purchase, I was as befuddled now as I would be then.

I plugged in the docking station and slid the battery on top in order to charge it. That I could do. It was just everything else.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or 661-395-7279.

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