There hasn't really been much for me to complain about recently but a incident in the kitchen this week was an opportunity that could not be ignored. I was late home from work, my wife wasn't feeling very well, the cat had thrown up. It was all a bit stressful. Then the rice packet exploded all over the bloody kitchen. Mr. Angry was back!
Dear Customer Relations,
Waitrose Basmati Aromatic Rice
“The prince of rices, flourishing in the Himalayan foothills where fertile soil, snow-fed streams and the purest air combine to produce a splendid rice. Aromatic and fluffy, (it) deserves pride of place on your table”.
That’s what it says on the packet and for the most part, it sounds pretty good. It would perhaps be more accurate however to end that particular piece of marketing bollocks with:
“Aromatic and fluffy, it deserves pride of place on your floor”
Because that is where most of it ends up.
You see, the packaging for your Basmati Aromatic Rice was designed by a complete and utter moron.
I would like to challenge you to choose a dozen members of your staff at random and ask them to attempt to open a 1kg packet of Waitrose Basmati Aromatic Rice without the assistance of power tools or laser scalpels. If more than one of them manages to keep more than half of the rice in the packet, then you can be assured that they were cheating!
That is because the only way to accomplish this task is to place the bag of rice into a tall jug or similar vessel which will hold the bag firmly in a vertical position. The jug is then placed into a large and sterilised bucket (to collect the shrapnel) before the top 4mm of the bag is carefully removed with a freshly sharpened pair of tungsten-carbide surgical scissors.
Alas, these particular instructions were not included on the packet.
I therefore made the dreadful mistake of trying to open the packet… …with my fingers!
I happened to be preparing a Thai Red Curry so Basmati Aromatic Rice was the obvious accompaniment. Now I’ve been opening packets of rice for over forty years now so I was foolish enough to think that I’d developed a relatively efficient technique. Applying my four decades of experience, I carefully gripped either side of the packet between thumb and forefinger and tried to gently pull the sealed edges apart.
I increased the force slightly.
I increased the force a little bit more.
Then lots of things suddenly happened all at once!
The one thing that didn’t happen is that the seam along the top of the parted neatly. Oh no.
A tiny part of the seam opened and from that, a whole series of tears began to spread rapidly in a downwards direction immediately transforming the once homogenous bag into a series of plastic ribbons. The outward lateral force still being being applied by my fingers and thumbs now resulted in an upward movement of the still-intact bottom of the bag. This in turn had a drastic negative impact on the internal volume of what was left of the bag itself and a resultant positive impact on the internal pressure upon its contents – the Basmati Aromatic Rice.
The effect was rather like the activation of a fire sprinkler – only with rice instead of water.
300,000 little grains began to spray in every direction!
Now it just so happened that – roughly 1.5m to my right - my dearly-beloved had, only seconds previously, opened the door to the dishwasher and said door was inclined at roughly 45 degrees to the vertical. By coincidence, the largest tear in the bag of rice was perfectly aligned such that the jet of high-velocity rice grains struck the inside face of the door at precisely the right angle to ricochet straight into the dishwasher itself.
Seconds later, I was left holding the tattered remains of the bag containing perhaps 50 grams of the original kilogram. Another 200 grams had spread to cover every available square inch of the kitchen work surfaces. Another 200 grams had managed to disperse itself to the farthest corners of the kitchen, including an open cutlery drawer, my glass of cold beer, the sugar bowl and just about everywhere else that wasn’t hermetically sealed.
However, half of the former contents of the bag had miraculously found its way into the dishwasher. You can imagine therefore my unbridled joy at discovering that the dishwasher was full of dirty, wet dishes to which our Basmati Aromatic Rice had now adhered itself with remarkable efficiency.
We could hardly just switch it on – that would have simply cooked the rice – so we were obliged to scrape every plate, cup and utensil one by one before we set about sweeping, hoovering and generally chasing the rice around the kitchen (and sticking cocktail sticks into an effigy of your packaging designer fashioned out of the soggy rice from the dishwasher).
Obviously, I was very annoyed - but also mystified. Mystified as to how a company like Waitrose could allow such a mind-bogglingly crap piece of design to make it all the way to your supermarket shelves. Quite apart from the intellectually-and-grammatically-challenged packaging designer, you must have a small army of buyers and merchandising experts who signed off on this staggering display of complete and utter ineptitude.
I do hope that you will pass a copy of this letter to every one of them. I would be genuinely interested to hear what they have to say.
PS: Don’t try Red Thai Curry with potato wedges. It just doesn’t work. You need Basmati Aromatic Rice.